As the days of December rolled past, Alexis experienced a holiday season that was mostly unremarkable. In later years she remembered it as a time that her mother was so wrapped up in her work that Alexis rarely saw her. When she did see her mother, Genevieve seemed to be very tired, as if she wasn’t sleeping much and when she did sleep it wasn’t well.
Coinciding with her mother becoming quite distant, Alexis found herself more and more caught up in the world of reading. She quickly surpassed the stories of Dick and Jane, progressing until she obtained the coveted books without many pictures. During this time her favorite books were two thick volumes her father gave her: A collection of fairy stories and a collection of short stories for young readers.
It wasn’t long before her progress, as a reader was known outside the farm. Kelly and Genevieve were quite proud of their child and it was clear to Eileen and the hands that talking about Alexis’ accomplishments was not to be frowned on like talk of her parents’ pasts.
One day a boxy truck came rumbling down the gravel drive toward the white frame house on the hill. Alexis, who after finishing her chores, was spending the morning sitting in the window seat reading a story about a little orphan girl who charmed her neighbors with how well she cooked yeast rolls. She was sitting with her eyes closed vividly imagining how wonderful the rolls would smell and taste, having experienced numerous encounters with such rolls in Eileen’s kitchen, when the sound caught her attention.
Alexis dropped her book to the floor and stood up on her knees looking at the truck, remembering when such a truck came down the drive and delivered the bed her mother was confined to for so long. Suddenly Alexis was filled with fear that her mother was sick again, remembering how tired she seemed lately. As the truck stopped, rather than seeing beefy delivery men step out, a perky woman hopped out dressed in a bright jumper and funny hat.
“Well, hello, Mr. Archie!” Alexis heard the woman call out, in a voice that was familiar to her, and assumed her father was standing on the front porch to greet the arrival.
“Hi Wendy, I haven’t seen you since the wedding. So you are driving the bookmobile now?” asked Kelly’s voice.
“Yes sir, I attended the junior college to become a librarian before I got married, so they asked me to take the job of driving the bookmobile until … well … you know, I get busy with a family of my own.” Wendy was heard to say. Alexis in her room wondered why having a family would keep Wendy from having a job. All the men around Misty handled both families and jobs. “I heard about how well Alexis can read now, so since I was making my rounds out in this part of the county already, I thought I would drop by to see if Alexis wanted to borrow some books.”
Alexis, on hearing this offer, hopped off the window seat and dashing past her mother’s studio, didn’t notice that her mother was hard at work while a sleepy Bennie tried his best to maintain his stance on the model’s platform. Kelly was thanking Wendy for stopping by, saying that he was sure Alexis would love to borrow some books, when Alexis crashed through the front screen and came to a stop barefoot next to her father on the front steps.
“Hello, Mrs. Jessie!” said Alexis, having already asked Eileen how she should address the new Mrs. Giffin, since there was already one Mrs. Giffin in Alexis’ life. “I heard! You have books in that truck.” Alexi pointed toward the truck that was brightly painted with rather primitive images of children being handed books from the clouds, as if god himself were showering the blessing of books on the children.
“Why yes, Alexis there are all sorts of books in the Bookmobile. Come and let’s see what you would like to read,” said Wendy brightly, leading the way. Kelly managed to grab his daughter and carry her to the back of the truck before she was able to cross the grass, where she would have filled her feet with the ever-present sticker burs.
Alexis stood hugging the borrowed books to her chest, as her father waved goodbye to the receding truck, assuming that Wendy was looking in the mirror and would see the farewell. “Daddy, how much does it cost to borrow books?” she asked
“Nothing, Pumpkin, it’s why it is called borrowing. Take the books up to your room and wash up for lunch. On your way by, remind Bennie to come to lunch and bring your mother, okay?” instructed Kelly.
“Yes, Daddy,” said Alexis, before heading back to her room, as her father went back into his office.