Monday, July 6, 2015

Freedom Has A New Name by Meg Gray

Shelby’s new found freedom couldn’t have come at a better time…

Shelby ducked her head out from behind the park play structure again. It was all she had to do to keep Erika’s butt stuck to that bench like glue. Her sister/babysitter looked at her as she kept talking away on her stupid cellphone.

Mom and Dad bought it for her when they told her she was in charge of babysitting all summer. In case of an emergency—that’s what it was meant for. Erika seemed to have a lot of emergency because she was always on the phone.

But it was turning out okay. It meant Shelby got to do whatever she wanted—most of the time. Like when she got to make her own lunch and lick the knife every time she dipped it in the peanut butter jar. She also got to put as much jam on her bread as she wanted. She really liked the strawberry jam, and nobody ever put enough on for her. It made a sloppy, ploppy mess all over the counter. Shelby was too small to reach the plates and it wasn’t safe for her climb up and get one so she did her best to keep her drips over the counter. Only a few hit the floor. She forgot to put the jam away, but Erika got in more trouble for it than she did. And Erika had to clean up the whole kitchen mess—punishment for not keeping a better eye on her charge is what Dad said.

Erika gave Shelby strict orders to never again enter the kitchen alone. And then there had been the bathroom incident where Erika got in trouble for Shelby’s tea shop dishwashing project that got a little out of control. After a fabulous afternoon tea with Nina-Belle and Baby Blue—Shelby’s two favorite dolls—she’d washed up the white plates she used, just like in a real restaurant.

It wasn’t her fault she couldn’t reach the soap and had to use her sparkly blue toothpaste instead. If it was good enough for her teeth, then it had to be good enough for her dishes. But it was messy, considering the toilet paper squares she used for scrubbing didn’t hold up as well as Mom’s dish rags. They kept falling apart and left wet piles in the sink and on the floor. But she only used one roll—not the whole package of rolls. Shelby got in a little bit of trouble for that, but not as much as Erika did.

Her big sister had to clean up that mess too. Erika missed a spot of blue sparkle behind the toilet. Shelby saw it every time she sat in the bathtub. She didn’t mention it, though.

This had been the best summer in Shelby’s whole life. She was getting to do whatever she wanted.

Right now she wanted to play with the cute little fur-ball puppy she’d just met. If Mom was here she would tell Shelby not to touch it. But Erika was all the way over there on that bench, talking on her phone and couldn’t see it.

Shelby and the brown puppy were digging in the dirt. Last night’s rain filled Shelby’s favorite digging hole so she started a new one with the puppy’s help.

Shelby popped her head up, so Erika could see her. Her sister was still on the phone, but she looked over. Shelby ducked down again to return to her hole-digging project.

“Looks like your puppy is going to need a bath,” a mom said, sitting down on a bench near the hole with her baby. Her pink painted lips smiled at Shelby.

What a great idea! Shelby smiled back because she wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, but she could smile at them.

Shelby wiped her muddy hands on her shorts and picked up the baby doll blankets and toys she’d brought with her and stashed them in her backpack. Mom never let her bring toys to the park, but Erika didn’t care.

Shelby scooped up the puppy and put it in her backpack too. She ran the zipper closed, leaving an opening so the puppy could breathe, and slipped her arms through the straps.

Shelby marched around the slide with Nina-Belle and Baby Blue in her arms because there wasn’t any room for them in her backpack now.

“I’m ready to go,” she said to Erika.

Her sister’s eyes popped—big! “Gotta go,” Erika said and got off the phone. “You’re a mess. What were you doing over there?”

“Playing,” Shelby said, taking a step backward. The puppy moved in her backpack and almost knocked her off balance.

“Let’s go,” Erika said, leading the way.

Back in the apartment, Erika pulled out her cellphone again. “Go change your clothes and wash your face,” her sister said as she punched a button.

But her six-year-old, almost seven-year old brain had a better idea. “May I use the bathroom to take a shower?” Shelby asked, using her best manner-filled voice. She was big enough to do her own shower now and wash her own hair, something Mom was very proud of her for!

“Yeah, just don’t leave it a mess, okay?” Erika flopped on the couch and stuck the phone to her ear.

“Okay,” Shelby said. She passed Mitchell’s room and the sounds of his new alien video game on the way to the bathroom.

Shelby closed the door and gently took off her backpack. She set it on the floor and peeled the zipper back. The cute little puppy was curled up in a ball on top of the doll blankets.

Awww, she’s so cute. Shelby stroked her fingers down the puppy’s mud-caked back. “I’m going to call you Butterscotch.”
Meg writes clean contemporary romance novels, featuring strong female characters. As a mom to two young girls, Meg is passionate about creating stories centered around female empowerment. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest where she still lives today with her husband, daughters, and crazy pets. She splits her time between homeschooling her girls and writing in the hours after she has put her husband and children to bed. See what's new and free from Meg at

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