I never sleep, so I always hear them talking at night. I hear their matches strike. I hear them puff when they blow out their smoke. I hear them putting their change in the bowl on the dresser. If I lay really, really still, if I breathe really, really quietly, if I lift my head just right, I hear them turning over in their double bed with its padded pink silk headboard.
That headboard is right up against the same wall that the pillow ends of Lolly and my beds are pushed up to. I don’t think they thought of that when they let us move our beds this summer.
But I’m glad they didn’t because now I am finding out all kinds of things that they never answer me about during the daytime. Like, why the Dugan’s mom is always moving back to her mother’s house across town and taking the kids with her. Or like why she comes back. Or like why my teacher left in the middle of the year. Or like why Mr. O’Neil always comes home late at night singing, “I want a girl, just like the girl who married dear old dad.” I ask Lolly about this stuff in the morning, but she just says, “Shush.”
Tonight, they are talking about Fern Vinatieri. They’re saying she has another bun in her oven. Mom says that Fern is not telling anybody else yet, just in case. Just in case of what? They should tell me. I mean, I am Fern and Lyle’s goddaughter, after all. And Linda, their biggest kid, is my best friend. I’m over there all the time. Shouldn’t I know stuff about them too?
Anyway, I think “bun in her oven” means she is going to have another baby. Fern already has so many babies, but I guess she likes ‘em. There is Linda and Terry and Vicki, and then the three boys, Tim and Lylie and Chuck. How many more buns she is going to bake? I can hear my mom saying that Fern was crying about it. My dad says it’s no wonder. I don’t know why she would be crying. Everybody is always so happy about new babies. Look at my bratty baby brother. You would have thought it was Christmas when they brought him home. I wish they’d put him back in the oven. I know there is an oven, because, momma says Mary Castleberry was left too long in the oven and that’s why her skin is so dark.
How do you get a bun in your oven? How do you get the bun out of the oven? Where is your oven? Do boys have ovens? I don’t think so. I never heard of a daddy having a baby. So it must have something to do with girls. Do you have to eat something like bread dough or flour or something? One time I heard mommy tell Lolly that you have to have a seed. So, do you eat poppy seed rolls? I tried to ask mommy then but she just told me to go in the other room and that we would talk about it later, when I was big like Lolly, like in the third grade.
Another thing is can you have a baby if you are not a mommy? Or if you don’t have a daddy? Linda told me that her cousin got a big tummy and went away and came back with no baby because there wasn’t a daddy. I know that the big tummy is part of it. I guess the bun gets big, maybe if you drink a lot of milk, but I don’t know when it becomes a baby. I wonder if some people just have buns, not babies? I think I’ll ask Linda to ask her mom and then tell me. Her mom, my godmother Fern, must know all about it because she has had so many buns in her oven.
They have stopped talking about Fern now. I can hear them moving around on the bed. It squeaks and the bed frame bumps against the wall. I can hear that song that Daddy sings. He sounds like the Indians on The Davy Crockett Show– uh, uh, uh…uh, uh, uh.
Lolly sits up in her sleep and stares at me with those funny eyes she gets when she is still sleeping but looks like she is awake. She stares right at me but doesn’t really see me. She puts her head back down and starts snoring a little. Mamma says that is because of her add-a-noise. Now I can’t hear Mommy and Daddy any more.
Why can’t I sleep like everybody else does in this house? I slip my leg into Lolly bed, under her sheet, and touch her foot with mine. I wish she’d let me crawl all the way into her bed, but the foot will just have to do. I wish I was in the third grade. Then I’d know the answers to all this stuff.
That little light under our door crack comes on. I squeeze my eyes shut just in case they peek in here. No matter what Lolly says, tomorrow I am going over to the Vinatieri’s and ask about this bun thing.