Things’ll Be Different — unpublished

The clanging jarred twelve-year-old Hainey O’Hare awake.  The alarm! She squinted her eyes and peeked from beneath the sheet. The summer vacation sun cast a glow on her tiny room. She yawned, stretched, and rolled sideways to sit on the edge of the bed.
She heard her one-year-old brother, Jonathan, glubbering  in the next room. Hainey stepped into her pink shorts and slipped her toes into her strollers. She peeked through the door. Jonathan was playing quietly with his bear and horsey. She tiptoed to the kitchen, glad to have a few minutes of peace. Mom and Dad had already gone to work, and as usual, left a pile of dirty breakfast dishes in the sink.
Humming softly, she filled the sink with hot water, added detergent, and plopped the dishes in to soak. She swept the kitchen and skipped out to the laundry room. She clucked in surprise. Mom had separated the wash into neat colored piles. Hainey threw in a cupful of detergent and an armful of clothes and turned the dial. The washer began to fill, and she sauntered down the hall to check on Jonathan. He was still jabbering away, talking to his bear.

Two blocks away another alarm went off — for the second time. Sarah Howard lay stock still for a moment, gathering her strength. Her day paraded before her and she sighed: wash the breakfast dishes left by her husband, Tom, and the two girls, clean the disaster area of the kitchen that they always left, wash the clothes, and all the while getting two-year-old Petey up, fed, and ready for their morning walk. She sighed again and rolled reluctantly out of bed. The sun caught her in its glare and she squinted her eyes as she heard Petey moving in the nursery. She slipped into her new orchid Bermuda shorts and started a new day.

Hainey finished dressing Jonathan and put him in his high chair. She spooned Gerber’s baby food into his mouth slowly while Jonathan ate a little and dribbled a lot while he continued to talk to his bear. Finally with breakfast done, Hainey picked him up and walked to the front porch. The day would be hot soon, she decided, too hot for a walk if she waited much longer, so she rolled the big buggy to the sidewalk, popped Jonathan in, and in a moment was strolling down Fair Street, humming.

Sarah finished her morning household rituals and fed Petey. He was doing well on cereal now, and most of it went into his mouth. She glanced out the breakfast nook window while she sipped her second cup of coffee. The sun was already bright — but not too hot yet. This would be a good day for a walk, she decided. In two minutes she had Petey in the stroller and was walking down Turner Avenue.
Ten minutes later at the intersection of Turner and Fair, Hainey O’Hare passed Sarah Howard.
“Hello, Mrs. Howard,” said Hainey with a bright smile. She looked at Petey in his stroller. “Say, he’s growing like a weed, isn’t he?”
Sarah smiled and peeked into the buggy. Jonathan gurgled at her and flailed his chubby arms.
“So’s your brother. He looks just like Petey did a year ago.”
“Yeah, I guess they grow fast,” said Hainey, “but not fast enough for me. I look forward to the day when Jonathan can take care of himself.”
Sarah chuckled. “Yes, me, too. Then I’ll have more time to myself.”
“Yeah,” said Hainey as she grabbed the buggy handle. “Well, have a nice day.”
“You, too,” said Sarah, pushing the stroller ahead.
Hainey glanced back at the receding form of Sarah Howard.
“You know, Jonathan, someday when I grow up, I want to be a beautiful lady like Mrs. Howard.” She put Jonathan’s Teddy Bear back within reach of his chubby little fingers. “When I’m grown up, things’ll be different.”