It was Spring a year later and they had found the missing body from the Gazebo Murder. Ridley’s old yellow raincoat was a little too tight now. She sat under a tree near the water tower, attempting to draw the crowd of people at the farmer’s market in a little red sketchbook. The bins of apples were what she wanted to draw next, but her set of colored pencils had been missing a red for a while now. The murder she lost her red colored pencil to was still a mystery. Orange would have to do.
No. Orange was wrong. They looked like pumpkins. Ridley snapped her book shut and hopped to her feet. It was time to go home. At the library Ridley had learned from a poetry book what a haiku was, and lately she’d been constantly making them in her head, and jotting them down in notebooks.
Can’t replace a red
Apples turn into pumpkins
Orange just won’t do
Her father was still rarely home, and when he was he was barely conscious and he smelled bad. Ridley was 10, and now knew that this was called “drunk”. He wasn’t home when she arrived back at the apartment, and Carol the ferret, still clad in his red ribbon, greeted her at the door. He trailed at her heels as Ridley went to shut her father’s bedroom door- she didn’t want to see the squalor he lived in. In the past year she’d gotten into the habit of keeping the rest of the apartment pretty neat on her own.
She collapsed onto her mattress in her own room, and Carol curled up in the crook between her neck and shoulder. Ridley zoned out staring at the ceiling for a while. The bangs she still sported stuck to her forehead with sweat as she daydreamed. Growing up taking care of yourself is a lot to manage; sometimes you forget to just be a kid. In the years to come Ridley would come to feel like she missed out on a lot of the whimsy that came with simply letting yourself be a child. In the years following that, she’d realize that some people just can’t afford whimsy. She pulled a notebook out of one of the stacks of books on her floor and jotted down another haiku:
Ferret in my hair
Fourth grade going on forty
I lay on the floor