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I stood up in mommy’s white bathtub, unsteady on my wobbly knees. I felt the suds from the Whinny-the–Pooh shampoo slide down my shoulders. It slid faster than usual because mommy had watered it down to make it last longer. I grabbed the washcloth from beneath the foamy layer of bubbles above the water; it was grey and torn, with rusty streaks. I trusted that it was clean because my mommy wouldn’t give me one that wasn’t. I slapped the dripping cloth on my bare chest,
“Mama look!” I said with a chuckle, “La, lala! Lala!”
I skipped in place, sloshing water on my sister and ankles. She squinched her nose and I saw her freckles move.
“Walking to schoooool!” I sang merrily, imagining a sidewalk rolling beneath my feet, as the quality of the grass changed while I skipped by.
“La! Lalaaa—Oh! I forgot my pants!” I said, peeling the washcloth from my now dry chest and slapping it on my thighs.
“Lalala!” I cried as I continued on my journey.
I subconsciously felt the water that had condensed beneath the washcloth trickle down my stomach and into my belly button. I continued to skip blithely, now causing the water in the whole tub to shift from side to side, creating crested waves. I wondered if my sister was scared of them because she was sitting right in the middle of them. I would be. I carefully kept the cloth on my thigh with four fingers, but suddenly looking down, I realized aloud,
“Oh my! I forgot my blouse!” I pulled the suctioned, dry cloth from my leg, slapping it back onto my shoulders. My sister squeezed her small teeth together and chuckled loudly, accentuating her dimples. She and I fell into a fit of giggling as my mother finished washing us. After a few minutes of doing this, I stood up on my legs – tired from laughing – to begin the game again, as the joke never got old.
“La! Lala! Lala! –Oh! – ”
I tramped down the wooden steps, listening to the familiar pattern of creaks at each step. When I took my last step, I shifted my weight on my ankle to see if the sound changed. It didn’t. I wondered why, maybe because I wasn’t heavy enough at 52-and-a-half pounds, or maybe because I hadn’t been standing in the correct place on the board. I considered walking back to the staircase to stand on different parts of the board to test my hypothesis, but it wasn’t worth the effort. The repetitive theme song of my brothers videogame, The Legend of Zelda, drifted into my consciousness as I plopped myself in front of the couch. I watched the screen to see where Zelda -the controlled figure - was, as I remembered my reason for coming to the basement: to tell my brothers to come up for dinner. I kept this in mind but I liked not saying anything and watching them play. I watched Zelda run around, towards the castle, occasionally pausing to aim his bow and arrow. Then he ran again, he passed by the moat and I urged my brother to probe its depths with Zelda as his marionette, but my brother said, “No, Julia”, as he was more interested in finding the rubies in the castle. I wanted to have my turn so I could swim in the moat with Zelda instead of watching him run around in circles.
“Guysss! Let me have a turn, I haven’t gotten to play yet!”
“Dinner!” Mommy shouted from upstairs.
“Please, please, please!” I shouted zealously, “just let me have one turn before we have to eat dinner.” My brother sighed and paused his game to set up a controller for me. I eagerly grabbed the controller, and asked him how to play
“How do you move him? What is this button on the bottom? How do I make him take out his arrows? Michael??!!”
“One sec, Julia,” they kept saying, with their glossy eyes glued to the screen.
Zelda wouldn’t move no matter how hard I pushed the red buttons. I attributed this to my lack of ability at playing videogames, and threw my controller on the ground before walking upstairs. As I walked up to the kitchen, I looked back to grouchily shout, “GUYS! Come. Up. For. Dinner!! Mom has been calling you!” only to see the end of the controller unplugged, sneakily tucked behind our Nintendo 64.
We were one the way to Disney World, our yearly trip. I felt the RV rumbling beneath me and heard the gas squeezing out of cars near us as they pulled to a halt. I was dreaming, but I knew we were at a red light because I could hear the throbbing engine sending tremors through my bed. I rolled over, away from the glow of the traffic light that shimmered through the front window, and tried to go back to bed, knowing somewhere in the back of my mind that I was already awake, and it was too late. I kicked my legs, rubbing them against the navy blue cushion, and then I lay still. I turned my head again and looked at my sister, who was calmly sleeping beside me. I wondered if she knew I was watching her, but if she knew she didn’t show it. I wished I could sleep as easily as her. I hugged my pillow tightly as the car accelerated, and closed my eyes hoping that the jostling movement would rock me to sleep, but I was so exited to reach Disney World that I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep again. I clambered down from the bed above the driving console and sat between my parents. My mom was sleeping with her mouth hanging open and her feet propped up on the dashboard. My dad’s eyes glistened beneath his glasses, and his hair looked like clown’s hair, but it didn’t have the pretty colors, just black and white. I liked those cookies; they were my favorite. Mommy used to buy them for me when we stopped at a specialty bakery back home. Dad beat his hairy, meaty hands against the driving wheel, but I don’t know why he was doing that.
“Daddy, how far are we?” I asked. He explained how the direction-teller-thingy worked, something about a satellite, but I was too tired.
“…Looks like we’re 10 miles away, honey” He eventually replied
“Ooooh”, I said, pausing to register it because I was sleepy.
“How long will it take to get there?”
“Not very long, sweetie, don’t worry,” he replied, placing his headphones back in his ears. I still wanted to know how long it would take, but Dad always gave me answers like that, Mommy would have told me how many minutes were left. I tapped Mommy on the shoulder
“Mom!” I whispered, “Mom!”
“Whaa…?” She lifted her head, but then it flopped back over and she snored real loud.
“Mom! How long will it be till we get there? Dad said four miles.” I gave her all the stuff she needed to figure it out; all she had to do was tell me.
“Five minuzz…” she answered too quickly. I wasn’t satisfied.
Just as I was going to turn back and ask my older sister, also asleep, Dad exclaimed, “We’re here! Look we’re in Disney World everybody!” as the monumental sign rolled over us. This was one of the most exiting moments of the entire trip, we were stunned and overwhelmed by the Disney Magic. It was the sign of the beginning of the best week of the year.
My sister woke up, upset that she missed it. All four of my siblings roused themselves, sitting up from various couches and bunk beds that were scattered about the RV. We talked about how cool it was going to be to stay on the campground in our RV, like true country folk. My twin sister and I began making up new hillbilly names for all of us, as we went through a tollbooth that was the entrance to the campsite. With these new names, we usurped entirely different personas. We were no longer ourselves but whoever we wanted to be. This experience brought on a sense of freedom of our identities. I was no longer Julia Robinson, but Billy-Bob-Joe-Bob-Harris Robinson.