Secret Notebook & The Oxygen Thief
Micah reached up and picked up another plastic container off the top of four others, set it gently onto the basement floor, and removed the top. Heavy sucker compared to some of the others, though they’d mostly consisted of Christmas, Halloween and a couple of other random holiday decorations. This one, though, appeared to have a mishmash of large binders and a couple of loose-leaf notebooks.
Why did his father keep these? All the important papers had been discovered in the upstairs study, seemingly easy for them to find “just in case.” Well, just in case happened four days earlier. And now he and his sister found themselves neck-deep in identifying boxes, boxes they’d never laid eyes on before despite the number of years coming to the house to visit and organize from time to time when Dad needed help.
A giggle sounded from behind a couple of other boxes.
His niece. And even with his niece there, it remained Micah and his sister who were neck-deep in work. This one? The Post-Millennial, as he and his husband referred to her as? A total pain in the ass.
“Would you please get off your phone and help? That’s why you’re here. Manual labor. It’s why my sister gave birth to you.”
Cue the exaggerated sigh. Predictable. Entirely predictable. “No, it’s not.”
“True.” His sister isn’t that smart. And she continued to prove it with each bad decision she made. The girl’s phone rang. “Come on, Nivea.”
Yes, Nivea. His sister named her firstborn daughter after her favorite product. And Nivea’s unborn little brother, Trojan, was on his way.
Another exaggerated sigh. “I can’t help it. My friend is telling me about this guy who likes me and I kinda like him, but I don’t know if he’s right for me.”
Teens and their drama. Why didn’t they just watch The Breakfast Club, Pump Up The Volume, Heathers, and Mean Girls and just get it all out of their system? “Let me give you a piece of advice. I don’t care.”
“She thinks he’s Mr. Hot Pants, though,” Nivea continued, ignoring him. She pretty much ignored most voices and all voices of reason when they didn’t suit her. She did, however, love the sound of her own voice.
Mr. Hot Pants?
“He wears extremely short shorts?”
“Um, no, Uncle Micah. That’s just gross.” She peeked around the corner and motioned with her head. “He’s Hot Pants.”
As if that cleared everything up.
“That means something to you in your world, doesn’t it?”
She stomped over to him, appearing determined he should understand the verbal hieroglyphics she spouted off and considered language. “He’s thirsty.”
“He wants something to drink?”
“No. He’s thirsty.”
Now he felt like sighing. “You realize in any part of the civilized world, that means he wants something to drink?”
She rolled her eyes. “Whatever. He’s too thirsty.”
Micah kneeled down and picked up a couple of the notebooks. “God, I hate Post-Millennials.”
Nivea walked over and stood next to him, dragging her feet on the floor because she refused to pick her feet up. He and his husband spent years trying to correct her of the habit. Nivea’s excuse? Gravity. She picked one of the notebooks up and flipped through the pages.
“I guess Grandpa spent some time overseas.”
“He did.” A long time ago. Before his parents met. Dad went to college, met a pretty girl who flashed him a little thigh, and they were married a year later. How did Nivea know? Her idea of a visiting a foreign country meant going to Taco Bell. “Why do you mention it?”
“I think he was in China.”
“He served in Germany for a couple of years when he was in the Army.”
“Okay, Mr. Know-It-All. But I still think he was in China.”
He didn’t care. He didn’t know to know how she came to that conclusion. Her mind could remain a mystery for all time and she’d hopefully never spawn little ones of her own.
Don’t ask. Don’t do it. You don’t want to know. Dammit!
“Okay, why do you think it was China?”
She held the notebook out for him to see. “Isn’t this Szechuan?”
“Szechuan is a type of cuisine, you oxygen thief.” He stared at the writing on the page. “You mean Cantonese or Mandarin if it’s from China. But no, you’re wrong. That’s called cursive. Most sentient life on the planet know that.”
“Cursive?” Her face squished up as if she’d bitten into a lemon…or whatever the hell Post-Millennials called them. Yellow ugly-face-looking-making-fruit? A reason to get Botox? “What country is that from?”
“Jesus wept. Your elevator never has gone all the way to the top floor, has it?” Her turn to look perplexed. That’s right. You can’t speak sarcasm. I can! “Cursive is also called handwriting. Most people here in the United States learned it in school.”
Nivea snorted. Her mother snorted. They were a family of snorters. Nobody in the extended family could wait to see what bad habit little Trojan learned.
“Well, we used keyboards.”
“You do realize you’re the reason people ask me and your mother if we’re your parents, right?”
Squishy face again. “You’re not, are you?”
“Body by Fisher and brains by Mattel.”
She pointed to the notebook. “What’s it say? I can’t read it! Tell me, Uncle Micah!”
“It says…” He felt his eyes grow very, very large. Holy shit! “It says—”