The Christmas Portrait

The Christmas Portrait by Phyllis Clark Nichols Read Free Book Online

Book: The Christmas Portrait by Phyllis Clark Nichols Read Free Book Online
Authors: Phyllis Clark Nichols
whatever it is you’re making.”
    “You too.”
    Miss Applegate was everybody’s favorite teacher. She was young and pretty, like a cheerleader, and she said I had real artistic talent. She’d been teaching me to draw after school. Uncle Luke, Daddy’s brother, liked her a lot. I saw them kissing last summer when we were all out at Granny’s for a fish fry, and she came with Uncle Luke to Mama’s funeral. I could call her Miss Lisa when she was with Uncle Luke, but I called her Miss Applegate at school.
    When Daddy told Uncle Luke he should marry Miss Lisa before somebody else did, Uncle Luke said, “I need to finish medical school first. Then I’ll think about it.” I hoped he thought about it in a hurry. I’d like an Aunt Lisa.
    When we got to art class, Miss Applegate already had the plastic containers with our names on them on the art table. I tugged at the lid to lift out what I made for my daddy. He liked anything to do with fishing, so I made him a bowl that looked like a fish. It could go on his dresser, and he could put his keys and change in it at night when he emptied his pockets. Miss Applegate showed me how to draw fish scales in the soft clay with a toothpick. And then she baked it so it would get hard and gave me some special paint to make the scales look shiny. She thought of everything, just like Mama.
    After I finished Daddy’s gift, I put it aside and lifted up a small wooden box. I had planned to decorate the box for Granny Grace, but her talking about a gift for Baby Jesus had given me a new idea. I needed that box for something special. What, I didn’t know yet. But I would think of something.
    First I painted it red. After I had carefully painted around the edges, I set the box on a piece of newspaper. When the paint was dry enough, I planned to put on some redbird stickers. After that Miss Applegate would spray it, and then it would be finished and ready for Christmas.
    Eric sat across the table, painting a giraffe on a Christmas ornament. He pointed at the bowl I had made and mumbled, “I like that fish.”
    “Thank you. It’s for my daddy.”
    He pointed at my red box with his dripping paintbrush. “Who gets that?”
    I nearly snatched the paintbrush right out of his hand before it dripped on my box. “It’s a special gift for somebody.”
    “For the teacher?” Eric dabbed some more spots on his giraffe.
    “For my mama,” I said.
    “Your mama? You don’t have a mama. Everybody knows she’s dead.”
    Eric’s words shoved me into a place where I didn’t want to be. I didn’t know whether to cry, or to run, or to just sock him in the nose. My mama had gone to heaven on September twenty-eighth, but no one had ever said out loud to me, “You don’t have a mama. She’s dead.”
    Laramie heard what Eric said and came and sat down beside me. “Don’t listen to Eric. He’s a dumb toad.” Then she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “If you want me to, I’ll take care of him after school. I’ll make him sorry he ever said something like that.”
    I just bit my lip and shook my head. I believed Laramie could take care of him all right, but I didn’t want her to get in trouble.
    Laramie was as tall as Eric and the fastest runner in the class. She acted like a tomboy, but she didn’t look like one, with her green eyes and long blonde hair. She often got in trouble for sassing or for saying ugly words, but she could be nice sometimes. She was the only one in the class who ever told me how sorry she was about Mama dying. I think it was because her mama was gone too. But I wasn’t friends with her because my best friend Emily didn’t like her. Emily was prissy and all into girly things, and Laramie? Well, Laramie was different and mostly stuck to herself.
    I didn’t talk to Eric or Laramie anymore. I just wanted to be quiet, put the redbird stickers on my box, and think about Mama. I finished, and Miss Applegate sealed the box and the lid with spray. When I wiped my face

Similar Books

Dead on the Level

Helen Nielsen

Star Force 12 Demon Star

B. V. Larson, David VanDyke

Heart of the City

Ariel Sabar

Texas Hellion

Jordan Silver

The Wombles to the Rescue

Elisabeth Beresford

The Tao of Pam

Suzanne Jenkins