Get to know a little about Gracie, Lizzie and Reba Dee Hitt
Reba Dee had carried things around with her as soon as she was able to walk. She was a collector. Their daddy joked that Reba Dee, being the third child would collect things to make sure she got something of her own. Just about all Reba Dee’s clothes, toys and books had belonged to Gracie and then Lizzie first. Today was no exception, but Reba Dee loved the cotton black-and-red dress she was wearing. It was really too big for her, but she liked wearing long dresses, and this one fell mid-calf, perfect. The dress tied in back with a long sash of the same fabric, and there were ruffles at the short puffed sleeves. Her black lace-up sandals looked like bowling shoes with side cut outs. “Lizzie, it’s not going to kill you for her backpack to touch you.” But even as Gracie had said it, she and Reba Dee were sliding over as far as their seat belts would allow in order to give Lizzie a little more drama Queen room. She eyed Queen Lizzie with her denim leggings and royal purple top. Lizzie was tugging on the stretchy elbow length sleeve of her otherwise flowing tunic shirt. “Lizzie, what has gotten into you today? You’re going to spoil Reba Dee’s first time on this ride, and you know she’s been looking forward to it!” “Yeah, about as much as you have, ya big baby.” Lizzie grinned with that devilish grin she always had when she knew she was right. She may as well have bonked her older sister on the head with her Drama Queen scepter. Gracie couldn’t come up with a quick comeback, but thank goodness she didn’t have to, because the train’s whistle blew, and the engineer yelled from the first car, “The train is now leaving the station.” Gracie pursed her lips and rocked her shoulders back and forth while giving Lizzie one of those nana-nana-hay-goo looks. On the inside, Gracie felt a mixture of relief and apprehension that the ride was starting. Then she replayed in her mind what she’d heard, There ain’t nothing wrong with this ride he’d said, and, y’all are in for a treat. Gracie felt her tensed legs relax as her feet flattened out on the floor of their car. She hadn’t noticed she had been sitting with her heels up with her legs bouncing up and down like she had to go to the bathroom-a nervous habit she had. She wondered if Lizzie had noticed too. The train started slow, and then picked up a little steam as they proceeded into the darkness of the tunnel. Every year Gracie was amazed at the detail of the tunnel. She wasn’t sure if they added to it every year, or if she just noticed more because she was getting older. She took the opportunity of the darkness to carefully pinch her lip-gloss from the pocket of her Capri jeans. She used two hands to make sure it wouldn’t tumble to the floor. Gracie had always considered herself a little bit of a nerd on the inside until her twelfth birthday when she received her first makeup kit. The four-tiered makeup suitcase had been a gift from Aunt Melanie, and had not been well received by Gracie’s parents. It had taken her awhile to realize you don’t wear too much at a time, or else it all gets washed off. Her daddy called it-“war paint”-and if he could see it,-it was considered too much. Today, she had brushed just a tiny bit of pink glimmer to her cheeks and brought along one of the lip-glosses, aptly named Cotton Candy Pink. She was wearing her new pink Keds and matching polo shirt. She had seen an outfit just like it in one of the displays at the Mall. Nowadays, it seemed like one minute she was happy being absorbed in a science book, the next she was looking at Teen magazines and dreaming about Jason Pharrone, one of the guys in the band-‘Tuney Loons’ They had only been riding a short time when it slowed and then stopped. The tunnel was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, and it felt like a refrigerator- just like the real tunnel her parents had taken them to last year on vacation. The air was thick and smelled like the dirt her dad had plowed when he started their summer garden. Reba Dee jumped when a bright light popped on, shining down onto a diorama off to the right side of the train. It was a man Gracie and Lizzie recognized. Gracie interjected, “Look, Reba Dee- he’s the man Daddy talks about all the time-it’s the “early-to-bed” man. He looked so real. His skin looked soft, not plastic and hard like a mannequin would, and his clothes moved with him as he moved his body. His feet stayed planted, but he twisted, turned, bent over and moved his arms and head. He was dressed with a sort of frilly white shirt, a brown tweed vest that looked too tight, and a jacket that matched the vest, but had big gold buttons. His hair was the only thing that looked fake, but maybe that was because they didn’t usually see grown men with long hair that was so thin you could almost see through it. His mouth didn’t move either, but if you didn’t look at his face while he was talking, you would think you were sitting in front of the real Benjamin Franklin. He told the ride-goers he was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706. He then read a few quotes from a book he held called Poor Richard’s Almanac. He wore little half glasses he said he invented. “I believe in today’s time, you call these bi-focals” he’d said. He told them how he had helped draft The Declaration of Independence, and how important it was to think for yourself. All three sisters joined together and mouthed right along with him as he ended with, “And remember, early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” The light faded as Mr. Franklin bowed slightly, and their train started to move. Gracie never liked leaving the scenes. They seemed so real that one year she had come close to raising her hand to ask a question. She would never admit it now, and even though she knew better, she still pretended the automatons were real. Lizzie shook her head as she looked at Gracie and said, “I don’t think you belong here.” The train car started up again, and the lights faded; it was complete darkness again. “What’s that supposed to mean, Lizzie?” “What I mean is I think you would rather live in these times instead of the time we live in now.” “Don’t be crazy, Lizzie. Hmmpphh. Crazy Lizzie- has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?” Reba Dee chimed in, “Crazy Lizzie, Crazy Lizzie, Crazy Lizzie” “Shut up!” Lizzie said, as she put her hand over Reba Dee’s mouth, then “Ow!. I cannot believe you just bit me!” Reba Dee giggled, and then they all joined in with a short bout of laughter. Gracie whispered to Lizzie, “Did she really bite you?” “Yeah, but not bad, she didn’t draw blood anyway, at least I don’t think so but it’s too dark in here.” Lizzie whispered back, and then said loud enough for Reba Dee to hear, “I’ve just been infected with monkey germs, that’s all.”
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