The Last Few Hours

by Estee

Story moved to Blackraptor in October 2009

Vin could hardly believe that summer was over. It had gone by so fast. Now, it was the last day of vacation and they couldn't even do anything fun because it was raining. It wasn't fair; it wasn't supposed to rain on the last day of summer vacation. Vin wondered if the rainy day was a sign of how the upcoming school year was going to be?

All week long, JD had been driving Vin crazy. He was so excited about school starting that he was practically bouncing off the walls. Vin had tried to be patient, but his patience was starting to wear thin. And now Mrs. Potter was acting funny, too. She had the radio turned on real loud and all morning she'd been singing and humming and dancing around the house with that dumb yellow feather duster.

"Miz Potter?"

Gloria Potter stopped humming and turned to JD. "Yes, dear?"

JD's face scrunched up in confusion. "How comes you're so happy today?"

"Well," she began, then turned back to the shelves, and continued her cheerful dusting. "I guess it's just a beautiful day."

JD and Vin both glanced at each other then turned to look out the window. It was just as dreary, rainy and yucky as it had been the last time they'd looked.

Mrs. Potter didn't seem to notice; she continued to dust, humming along to the country western song playing on the radio.

"Miz Potter?" Vin spoke this time.

"Yes, Vin?"

"Are ya gonna be lonely when we go back to school?" All Mrs. Potter's kids were gone away to college and he was worried that she'd be all alone and wouldn't have anyone to take care of once him and JD were back in school.

He was more than a little surprised when Mrs. Potter burst into laughter.

"What?" he questioned, tilting his head in confusion. Sometimes he just didn't understand grown-ups.

"Oh, nothing . . .." She cleared her throat and tried to look serious. "O-of course I'll be lonely, dear," she wiped at her eyes and Vin thought she might start laughing again, "but don't you worry, I'll manage somehow."

JD looked content enough with her answer, but Vin was starting to get suspicious. Mrs. Potter seemed just a little too cheerful today, in his opinion.

"Do you boys have all your school supplies ready?" she asked, brightly.

"Yep!" JD answered, bobbing his head and grinning like a loon. Vin rolled his eyes. JD'd had his book bag packed and ready to go for more than a week, unlike Vin, who didn't share his brother's enthusiasm. It wasn't that Vin hated school, exactly. There were some good things about it, like recess and art and free time when he could pick his own project to work on, but other than that . . . well, he could think of better ways to spend his time than being stuck in school.



"Do you have your school supplies ready?"

Vin's eyes narrowed. "You done asked us that already."

"I did?" She looked surprised.

"Yes." Vin nodded, folding his skinny arms across his chest. "Three times."

"Oh, I'm sorry, dear." She moved on to another dusting project, a noticeable bounce in her step. "I just want to make sure you're both prepared. Do you have your lunches packed for tomorrow?"

Now, Vin knew something was up. They never packed their lunches the day before. "Ain't it kinda early? School ain't 'til tomorrow."

"Yes, maybe you're right." She looked a little disappointed, but then she smiled at them. "Well then, since it's almost lunch time why don't you boys go on and make yourselves some sandwiches."

"All right!" JD jumped up and down, then dashed into the kitchen. "Come on, Vin!"

Vin just stood there for a moment, studying Mrs. Potter. She was in such a good mood that she hadn't even corrected his grammar. Now, she was humming again, getting the vacuum cleaner out of the closet. Go figure.

Grudgingly, Vin followed JD into the kitchen. JD already had the bread out and was trying to reach the grape jelly. Vin got the peanut butter down from the cupboard then got a butter knife and a spoon out of the drawer.

JD was the messiest sandwich maker Vin had ever seen. Buck always said his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches came out looking like roadkill, and he always left globs of jelly all over the counter.

Vin was more careful with how he made his sandwiches, because he didn't want to eat something that looked like it got ran over by a car. As he spread the peanut butter evenly over both slices of his bread, a great idea came to his mind. Instead of putting a little jelly on one side, like he usually did, Vin decided to try something he'd always wanted to try. Mrs. Potter was still in the other room, singing to Garth Brooks, so he got the chocolate syrup out of the fridge and then carefully drizzled it on top of the peanut butter. Licking his lips, he placed one slice of bread over the other, so the crusts matched up precisely.

"Hey, wait!" JD shouted as Vin went to put the syrup back into the fridge. "I want chocolate on mine, too!" So, Vin handed the syrup to JD and watched as he poured a liberal amount of chocolate syrup over the peanut butter side then squished the jelly side down on top.

The phone rang just as they were sitting down at the table and Mrs. Potter called out from the living room, "Could you get that, Vin?"

"Okay," he replied, picking up the phone and clicking the 'talk' button. It turned out to be a wrong number and as he placed the phone back into its base another great idea popped into his head.

"Who was it, dear?" Mrs. Potter asked from the doorway.

"Um . . ." he glanced at JD, who was happily eating his peanut butter and jelly and chocolate syrup sandwich, and hoped his little brother wouldn't throw too big of a fit -- but then again, anything was better than listening to him chatter on and on about the wonders of school. He wasn't even sure his idea would work, but he figured it was worth a try. He sat down at the table and tried to make his eyes look sad. "That was the school." He thought it would be good to make his voice sound disappointed, too, but it was hard. "They said that school ain't gonna start tomorrow, after all."

"What?" Mrs. Potter looked like she might fall over and Vin hoped she didn't, cause he didn't think he could catch her.

"Yeah," he sighed, looking up through his lashes because it was kinda hard to look at a person and tell them a fib, even if it was just a joke. "On accounta the . . ." Here was the hardest part; he glanced around the room, trying to come up with a good sounding reason. "Um, on accounta the rain."

"The rain?" They all looked out the kitchen window to find that it was still pouring steadily.

"Uh . . . the roof . . .is leakin'." He thought he remembered hearing about some other school getting out early once because the roof was leaking. It didn't really sound all that believable to him, but it was the only thing he could think of on such short notice.

Mrs. Potter sat down heavily in one of the vacant kitchen chairs, looking as if she might cry. "Are you sure?"

"Yep." He took a bite of his sandwich, grimacing because it didn't taste near as good as he'd thought it would. When he was finished chewing, he forced himself to swallow and added, "They said you could call if'n you had any questions." Please don't call . . . please don't call, he chanted over and over in his mind, while at the same time he plotted a way to get rid of the yucky sandwich without her noticing.

Then JD started to wail.

"JD, it'll be okay. As soon as they get all the water out of the classrooms, in about a week or two, then we'll be able to go back to school," he offered, proud of how sympathetic he sounded. Boy, if Uncle Ezra could see him now . . ..

Of course, that didn't make JD stop; in fact it seemed to make him cry more. Then Mrs. Potter sniffled, plucked a napkin from the middle of the table and took JD in her arms. "There, there, it'll be okay." She dabbed at her eyes with the napkin.

JD's crying made the perfect distraction. Vin got up from the table and managed to slide his sandwich into the garbage and close the lid without being seen. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying not to smile as he escaped to the living room. Maybe he should feel a little guilty for upsetting Miz Potter and making JD bawl, but the truth was he didn't. And as long as he came clean before Chris and Buck got home, he was pretty sure he wouldn't get in trouble either. They might even think it was funny at least he hoped so because he sure didn't want to get grounded again, especially since they never seemed to ground him from going to school.

He sprawled out in the big chair, picked up the remote and turned the TV on to Cartoon Network, then he turned up the volume so he could hear over JD's squalling. By this time tomorrow he'd be sitting in a boring old classroom, so for now he was going to enjoy his last few hours of vacation, as much as he could.