The Bucket

[It’s back to The Daily Post for inspiration — something about childhood one wishes would have been different. And for the first time in longer than I can remember, it’s also time to return to the characters of my novel.]

“I wish I’d listened better.” Annie snapped the buttons of her winter jacket over the closed zipper, the January winds cutting into her. “There were so many things people were trying to tell me — friends, my parents, teachers. I was pretty stubborn as a kid, thought I knew it all.” She sniffed loudly, smiled at Butch. “Guess you don’t think I’ve changed much.”

“Oh!” Butch stepped back reflexively, as if a bulb had suddenly flashed in his face. “No. Why would I think that?”

Annie smirked, the wool cap on her head wrinkling. “Your turn — anything you’d change.”

“Oh!” He stared back at her blankly. “About what?”

Months of similar conversations had trained Annie to control her facial reactions to these questions. “You asked me if there was anything about my childhood I’d wish were different. And I answered. So now, I’m asking you the same question.” Please don’t ask if there’s anything about MY childhood you wish were different.

“Oh!” Butch stared up at the late afternoon winter sky as if concerned something were about to fall upon him. “I guess — I wish I hadn’t lost that bucket.”

Annie blinked. “A bucket.”

“Yeah!” His face brightened. “My family, we had this bucket. It was red, not bright red like a tomato, but duller, looked a little brown actually.”

“Maroon?”

Butch shook his head. “No, it was a bucket. And my family, we used that bucket for all kinds of things, like washing my dad’s car, or mopping the floor, or filling the wading pool, or under a drip in the ceiling. Sometimes when one of us was sick, my mom would put a little water in the bottom, put it next to our bed in case we — ”

“Sounds like your family got a lot of use out of that bucket.”

“Yeah, we did.” His face dropped. “But then one day, I was using the bucket to play out in the field behind my house — Rune was with me that day — and I don’t know what happened, but I lost it. And my folks, they were some sore at me about that, don’t you know.”

“I see.” Annie knew the Goodman family’s heightened concern over household finances. “So, your family went without a bucket?”

“No suh!” Butch seemed startled that Annie would have considered this possibility. “My mom, she went out the next day, got us a new bucket. It was bigger, and green.”

Her patience was failing. “A bucket? Your family goes one day with a . . . bucket, and you’re telling me that’s the one thing about your childhood that you wished was different?”

“Oh!” Butch scratched his chin. “Well, my sister found the old bucket a few days later, but since my mom had already used the new bucket when she was digging out weeds, she couldn’t return it. So I made her go to the store and pay that money, for no reason. That’s why I regret it.”

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One thought on “The Bucket

  1. The things that we latch on to as a child that seem to cause the world to stop on its axis for only a moment in out lives. Sometimes… I think that the world soes stop? That these moments are really that earth-life-changing!

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