Hanging by a Thread

Hanging by a Thread by Karen Templeton Read Free Book Online

Book: Hanging by a Thread by Karen Templeton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Karen Templeton
being the baby and not having his older brothers around all that much. He’s like a walking David Lynch movie—very dark, very weird, with lots of incomprehensible erotic undertones. If I hadn’t baby-sat for him when he was little, he’d probably creep me out.
    To further complicate things, I think he has a crush on me. He’s over here constantly when I’m not at work, following me around, his big moony eyes peering out at me through his straggly black bangs, like prisoners who’ve lost all hope. Think Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck, then multiply by ten. And like Cher, I want to smack the poor kid and yell “Snap out of it!”
    But I don’t have the heart.
    Then I remember, with a sickening thud, the main reason, or reasons, I can’t leave the house tonight: Tina. Whom I’m supposed to meet in a little over an hour.
    â€œMama!” Starr’s shrill little voice darts out from the doorway. Her hands are on her hips. “The big hand’s moved past two numbers! That’s ten minutes! ”
    â€œAnother time,” I say to Frances.
    She sighs and shakes her head, then turns toward her house, shouting, “Dinner, here, Sunday, Heather wants to show off her ring,” over her shoulder as she goes.
    And I head up the stairs, wondering how somebody with no discernible personal life can have so many demands on her time.
    Â 
    An hour later, I’m by the front door, slipping my father’s coat over an outfit more appropriate to Pinky’s—Levi’s, slouch boots (with heels that could double as shishkebob skewers), a dark red vintage mohair sweater I found on eBay for ten bucks. I don’t know why I prefer older clothes to new, other than the obvious fact that I can’t afford to buy new. Nor do I know anybody who can. I mean, I read Vogue and think, chyeah, right. Not that I don’t think some of the stuff is seriously hot, but Jesus. Even if I weren’t a foot too short to wear any of it, by the time I could afford it, I’d be so old I’d look like a freak in it, anyway. I mean, two grand for a fringed skirt shorter than something I’d let my five-year-old wear? Please. And let’s not go anywhere near the six-or eight-or fifteen-hundred-dollar handbags. You’re supposed to be afraid that somebody might steal what’s in your purse, not the purse itself. Or am I missing something here?
    So I wear old, cheap and/or free stuff. Mind you, having never harbored a secret desire to look like a bag lady, it’s old, good-looking cheap and/or free stuff. I do have, if I say so myself, a certain flair. For the ridiculous, perhaps, but at least nobody can accuse me of looking like everybody else.
    Or around here, like anybody else. Sorry, but I don’t do big hair.
    Any way…by the time I read Starr the next chapter of Through the Looking Glass —interrupted a billion times by her pointing out words she recognized—and did two thorough monster sweeps of her room (there’s a big hairy purple one with a snotty nose and “sticky-outty” teeth who’s been a real pain in the butt lately) and tucked her in, it’s too late to eat, and my stomach is pitching five fits.
    My grandfather, who’s been vacuuming the downstairs rooms, glances up from winding the cord into a precise figure eight, over and over, around the upright’s handles. It drives menuts when I use the machine after he does. I keep telling him, it takes twice as long to do it this way, why not just loop it around the handles and be done with it? All that matters is that it’s up and out of the way, right? But he insists it’s neater the way he does it, that’s the trouble with the world these days, nobody takes the time to do anything carefully.
    â€œYou’re going out?” he says, hauling the Eureka out of the room.
    â€œYeah.” I cram an angora beret over my hair, yelling out, “Just to

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