passing it on

Thanks to to whoever gave away these books (found on discard/share shelves at my public library).

What My Father Gave Me, anthology edited by Melanie Little, with work by Lisa Moore, Melanie LIttle, Susan Olding, Saleema Nawaz, Cathy Stonehouse, Shannon McFerran, Jessica Raya

Belle, by Florence Gibson

In Green, by Robin Blackburn

“In my hands I’ve got a jar. A large one, the kind my grandma uses for canning. I’m here to fill it. Then I’ll stuff it in my knapsack. And tomorrow morning I’ll cart it to the woods, where, with forty giggling, hiccupping, and wise cracking petty thieves just like me, I will chug its contents before my first class of the day, arriving at school glassy-eyed, rubber-kneed, and instantly popular.

“My best friend, Brenda, has agreed to bring orange juice for the mix.

“I stare at the bottles. The bottles stare back. From the rec room downstairs, my parents’ voices rise and fall in staccato bursts, punctuated by the clink of ice cubes as they set down their tumblers or raise them for the next sip. I need to time this perfectly, before my mom comes upstairs to start supper, before the doorbell rings, and one of them comes to answer it, before their next refill. The time is now.

“I reach for the vodka. Goes better with orange juice, I tell myself. Vodka’s so much better for the morning.

“But the truth is different. In fact, I’d never be able to go through with this plan if I stole the rum. Rum is my dad’s drink. Rum and Coke. Sticky and sweet. It hardly tastes like alcohol at all. It’s a liar’s potion. A denier’s potion. The smell of it makes me vomit. A few years from now, when my friends and I start going to bars with fake ID, they’ll suck back the Daiquiris and the Pina Coladas—bright, like liquid cotton candy. But I won’t order those. Give me Campari and soda or a gin and tocnic. Something bitter. So I remember what I’m doing.”

from ‘Thirteen Answers for Alateen’ by Susan Olding, from the anthology What my Father Gave Me, edited by Melanie Little, Annick Press, 2010


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