Let’s pick up where I left off last week.
We spent all summer in that bike. Trike. Quad-rider. Whatever you want to call it.
Aiyana was the first one to drive it. Fair enough; after all, she did come up with the idea, and she did build it with only minimal help from me. And by minimal I mean that she did all the work and I maybe held things in place while she welded and hammered and wrenched – is that a thing?
Anyways, after a couple weeks of her doing all the driving, she let me drive. And boy oh boy, did I love it! Frankly, I blame her for my love of speed and cars and all that, the thrill-seeking, adrenaline-junkie stuff I’ve been dealing with ever since.
Right. The not-bikes.
We probably covered fifty klicks a day in that, which was enough to get us into town and around before heading back home. We had fun, wandering around the stores and doing some oh-so-adult shopping. At first the shopkeepers were pretty wary of us. After all, two little girls, unaccompanied? Who’d think we had any money?
Then I got the bright idea of asking my parents for money, and then things changed. Boy, did things change!
Like I said, this was middle-of-nowhere, Minnesota. It wasn’t a poor area, but there wasn’t tons of money, right? And a couple five-year-olds certainly wouldn’t have any money, or have the slightest idea how to spend it.
So this was probably June. I know it was early summer, because the crops were still growing, not even close to harvesting, and we were still taller than the corn. My dad gave me a twenty Daley note, and told us to have fun.
Wait, I hear you say. He just gave you money and freedom to go off and do things?
Well, yeah. Dad was older, and I was his ‘I never expected to foster a child’ daughter, so he was pretty relaxed about most of the things we did. Building a vehicle and driving all over the county? Piece of cake.
So we drove into town. I drove, actually, and Aiyana held onto the seat with white-knuckled hands. Did I mention I blame her for my addiction to speed? I had that thing full out, motors whining, and we’re pedaling like crazy because otherwise we’d drain the batteries too fast, all the way into town, and I only slowed down there because the local police had warned us not to go faster than any car we came across on the road.
We pull up in front of this little restaurant and head in, holding hands, and I say to the older woman – ha, older, she was probably twenty, but I was five! – “Can we have a table please?”
She humors me and brings us to a table.
“Do you need menus?”
I look at Cass, who nods.
She brings us the full menus and, to her surprise, we both start reading them. Cass, I think I said, could read when she was, like, three, and I had started to read the year before to keep up with her. I could handle the menu, just about.
“I’d like a grilled cheese,” I said. “And a glass of milk.”
“Can I have a Caesar salad? And water.”
“Okay, enough playtime.”
Cass frowns at this.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I don’t mind you pretending to read the menu, or playing at ordering, but I know you don’t have any money, and –”
“I do so!” I say, indignant, and pull out the bill. “See?”
Cass is even angrier. “I did not pretend!” she says, angry as only a child can be.
“Yes, you did,” insists the waitress.
“I’ll prove it!” says Cass. “Bring me a book!”
Smirking, the waitress goes off and comes back with a book from under the counter. Someone must have left it behind, because I don’t think that most hole-in-the-wall cafes have copies of Great Expectations just lying around.
“If you can read this, I’ll buy your lunch!” she says, and opens it at a random page.
Cass picks up the book and starts in.
“…while we talked, which divided his attention, and was the cause of his having made this lapse of a word. “Affianced,” he explained, still busy with the fruit. “Betrothed. Engaged. What’s-his-named. Any word of that sort.”
“How did you bear your disappointment?” I asked.
“Pooh!” said he, “I didn’t care much for it. She’s a Tartar.”
“I don’t say no to that, but I meant Estella. That girl’s hard and haughty and capricious to the last degree, and has been brought up by Miss Havisham to wreak revenge on all the male sex.”
“What relation is she to Miss Havisham?”
“None,” said he. “Only adopted.”
“Why should she wreak revenge on all the male sex? What revenge?”
“Lord, Mr. Pip!” said he. “Don’t you know?””
She closed the book and looked up at the waitress, innocence personified. “Is that enough?”
“Uh, um, yes, that’s plenty, yes.”
“I’ll have a milkshake, too. Strawberry.”
“Me too!” I added. “Chocolate.”
We didn’t make a friend there, but we got our lunch and never had a problem at another shop in town. And Cass even insisted we tip her; told you she was a genius.
Well, I seem to have rambled on long enough for this time; next time, I’ll try to tell you about that border-crossing incident.