Marissa never had to run errands because Aunt Charlotte had declared her to be a prodigy on the piano, so Marissa needed to spend all her energy practicing.
She’d declared Caroline to be too delicate for running up and down stairs. “She has such delicate bones.”
No, I was sturdy, so I ran errands. I fetched and carried for Aunt Charlotte for almost two weeks before she interrupted a particularly nice daydream I was having about me being chosen as a princess in the May Queen’s court for the May Day Festival.
Every year, Mom took me to see my brother, Devon and my sisters in the May Day Festival. All the princesses got to wear pretty pastel dresses, while the rest of their classmates wore costumes to represent spring. Ever since I could remember, I knew I didn’t want to be one of the pansies that always wound the May Pole, or, worse, one of the dancing birds. I’d wanted to be a May Day Princess.
I’d just got to the part in my daydream where the principal announced the names of all the May Festival princesses at our Friday assembly. He called my name, and my friends clapped and cheered as I walked to the front of the gym, where we had assemblies.
Aunt Charlotte’s voice interrupted me just as I saw the look of adoration of Freddy’s face. “Rosemary, run downstairs and tell Devon it is time for him to do his homework.”
I wanted to savor that look of adoration from Freddy. I wanted the whole school to see me walk to the front of the gym. I did not want to run to the basement, and I most certainly did not want to tell Devon anything, especially something he didn’t want to hear. I burst into tears over the loss of my daydream.
Mom declared, “She’s tired.”
Aunt Charlotte countered, “Little legs don’t get tired. Maybe she is coming down with something. Why is she under the piano anyway?”
I always lay on the floor under the piano. I claimed this as my spot in the house. Nobody had ever questioned my spot or tried to take it away form me. I cried harder.
Aunt Charlotte sounded scandalized, “My goodness. I’ve never heard such a racket.”
I thought she should get used to it, if she was going to stay at our house.
Mom demanded, “Rosie, come out of there, right now, and go to bed. If you are going to cry like that, you need to be in bed.”
Going to bed sounded just fine with me. I had books to read and a tablet for drawing tucked under my bed. I could finish my daydream, and maybe Freddy would ask to hold my hand and walk with me to class and push me in the swings at recess.
Before school the next day, Aunt Charlotte checked me for a cough and took my temperature. I seemed to be fine, but she made me swallow a big spoon of Milk of Magnesia anyway.
Every day at ten, my teacher, Mrs. White took Ann, Freddy and me aside and let us read. I wasn’t as good as Ann, but Mrs. White helped me figure out the words. After school this day, she gave me three books to read at home.
After dinner, I took my books under the piano and started to make out the words.
After a while, Aunt Charlotte looked around, “Where’s Rosemary? I want my sweater.”
Devon sneered, Devon couldn’t talk without sneering, “She’s under the piano, again.”
“Rosemary, what are you doing under there? Come out and get my sweater.”
I crawled out and ran to fetch Aunt Charlotte’s sweater while still thinking about my book. I liked the pictures and the words were mostly easy for me. I handed Aunt Charlotte her sweater and went back to the piano.
“Rosemary, what are you doing under there?” Aunt Charlotte seemed determined to interrupt my reading.
“No she isn’t! Kindergarteners don’t get homework. She’s lying again.” Devon always accused me of lying no matter what I said.
“Rosemary, bring me what you have under there.” Aunt Charlotte held out her hand, so I gathered up my three books and took them to her. She looked them over then opened them up and read inside the front covers and the back covers. “Where did you get these?”
“Mrs. White gave them to me. She gives everybody in my reading group books to take home and read.”
“She’s lying. We never had homework when I was in Kindergarten.” Devon sneered.
“Rosemary, come sit next to me.” Aunt Charlotte patted the place next to her and opened one of the books. “Now, read this to me.”
I had already made out all the words in the book she opened, so I read them quite easily. When I finished, Aunt Charlotte closed the book and surprised me. “Devon, you are right. Kindergarten children don’t get homework. However, Rosemary is a prodigy. She reads far better than other children her age. She must be encouraged.”
Being a prodigy sounded hopeful, and life did improve. Aunt Charlotte took me to the library after school the next day and found more books for me to read. She sat with me and helped me read the same as she helped Marissa with her piano practicing. As I had hoped, prodigies do not fetch and carry. Even better than getting out of tons of chores was that Devon had to do those chores because Marissa and I were prodigies, and Caroline was still delicate.