Windfall

Windfall by Sara Cassidy

Book: Windfall by Sara Cassidy Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sara Cassidy
Tags: JUV039000
Chapter One
    Ri-i-i-ing. Ri-i-i-ing. Ri-i-i-ing. Ri-i-i-ing. I lift my head from my pillow. The downstairs floor squeaks. One of my brothers shuffles across their bedroom.
    â€œHullo?” It’s Leland, who is six years old. After a long pause he says, “Do you want to speak to someone bigger?”
    â€œI’ve got it, sweetheart.” Mom picks up the phone in her room. She speaks quietly for a few minutes.
    â€œKids!” she calls. “I need to talk to you.”
    The three of us bound to her room. The boys are wearing flannel pajamas with pictures of robots and snowboarders. Their hair is stormy with sleep. Silas has eight little circles indented on his cheek. It looks like he slept on a piece of Lego. I’m wearing the knee-length soccer shirt that Dad sent from England.
    Mom smiles at us, but when she blinks, tears slide from her eyes.
    â€œSad news,” she says. “Richard died last night.”
    â€œOutside?” Silas asks, horrified.
    â€œYes, dear,” Mom says. “In the park.”
    â€œAlone?” Leland asks in a wobbly voice.
    â€œI guess so,” Mom says gently. “Richard slept outside and alone for many years.”
    â€œWas it rainy and cold?” Leland’s chin trembles.
    â€œIt was a lovely night,” Mom says. She shoots me a look. Mom and I played Crazy Eights last night after the boys went to sleep. Rain pelted the roof, and the wind was so strong that the branches of the backyard apple tree scratched at the window.
    Still, maybe Richard was warm and dry. Maybe in his dreams angels rocked him into that weird final sleep. You never know.
    â€œHe was probably dreaming beautiful dreams,” I say to comfort Leland.
    â€œProbably?” Leland challenges.
    â€œMaybe probably,” I say.
    â€œMaybe maybe ,” Leland says.
    â€œWe brought him a coat not that long ago,” Silas says. “And socks. He would have been warm.”
    â€œWe gave him money every time we saw him,” Mom says airily. She looks out the window at another gray Victoria day.
    She’s right, we did. But we never invited him for supper, or for a shower, or a night in a warm bed. We have an unused bedroom in the basement he could have lived in.
    â€œWe won’t ever, ever see him again, right?” Leland asks.
    â€œThat’s right, except in your memories.” Mom starts making her bed. “There will be a funeral in a few days.”
    Leland goes rigid. He clenches his teeth. “I’m not going to a funeral!” he says, staring Mom down.
    â€œMe neither,” Silas mutters, his eyes on the floor.
    â€œLiza?” Mom looks surprised. “Surely, you’ll go?”
    â€œNo way,” I declare. I picture Richard, wax-white and unmoving on his bench. I imagine rain on his lifeless face. What was I thinking— angels ? Warmth ? He was just as alone when he died as he was in life.
    Mom sits again on her bed and studies our faces. She opens her arms to Leland. He resists at first, but then melts into her lap.
    â€œLook, you guys,” Mom whispers. “This is sad. Even a little frightening. We didn’t know Richard well, but we loved him. He was sweet. Gentle.”
    â€œYeah,” Leland sniffles, raising his head from Mom’s shoulder. “His gentleness was more important than his smelliness.”
    Silas and I both snort. We try to stifle our laughter.
    â€œMaybe you’ll change your minds,” Mom continues, ignoring us. “A funeral is a chance to say goodbye.” She grins, then singsongs, “You’d miss a bit of school.”
    A bribe? How can she be so cold? Richard is dead , and we’re supposed to get excited about missing school?
    â€œYeah, that’ll make it worth it,” I say bitterly as I leave the room.
    â€œLiza, I didn’t mean it that way. I’m sorry. We’re all upset,” Mom calls after me.
    At breakfast my food tastes so dry, it

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