Title: Now You See It
Word Count 1300
Now You See It
Percy was four, (almost five.) he lived in the nursery of a big house.
It had tall windows. They were much taller than Percy was. Servants cleaned the windows every day. They had to use special wipers with long handles. The windows were too tall, even for grown-ups. They were too wide to be reached by his stretched arms. He loved the windows.
He loved many things of course.
He loved his rocking horse, and his rag bunny who slept under his chin, and he loved Bob the under-footman who patted his head and called him 'Little Sir.' Bob had a good smile, and he had given Percy a ginger candy once. It had had wool stuck to it, from Bob's pocket. It had been delicious.
He loved Smiffy. She was his nurse. She dressed him, and talked to him, and she kept him safe. She taught him how to behave like a proper gentleman. He was getting better at that, even though it was hard. She did make him eat his peas at the low nursery table, but that was all right, because after Percy had choked them down she told him stories.
Smiffy's words made a blue around her. It was the same blue as her eyes, a little faded, but but Percy thought it very pretty. Her words did not have much taste. But one time he had fallen and cut his knee. That had been long ago, way back when there was still snow on the ground. Blood had come out, and Percy had cried. (He had been little then,) On that day her blue had gone red around the edges, and her words had tasted sour like medicine. That had been strange, and it had made him cry harder.
He loved Papa, of course, you were supposed to do that. Smiffy said that Percy should put Papa in his prayers every night. She made sure he never forgot. Papa was very grand. His words were red and shining. They tasted like the andirons, of metal and soot. Papa was the Earl of Edrington. Percy would be the Earl of Edrington too, once he was big. Once he was Earl he would not lick the andirons, but he did do it now, if there was no one in the room.
And he loved Mama. He loved the way she smelled, (like flowers and skin,) and the way she let him sit close. He was permitted to see her every day, after washing and breakfast. She was still in her bedchamber then, and still in her dressing gown. She smelled like ink on the days she had been writing letters. Her voice was the same yellow as the insides of daffodils. He could see the yellow all around her when she spoke, and it made his mouth feel like butter. Percy liked that very best of all.
But nobody else saw the colors. He knew that now that he had gotten big.. Smiffy could not see them, and she said nobody else could either. She said that it was better not to talk about them, so he did not.
That kind of secret did not feel very good on the inside.
Today he had slept late, and now the sun from the windows had come all the way to his bed. Bits of bars of it came through the bed curtains, like friendly fingers. He pushed his own fingers through the light, but it did not feel or taste like anything.
He had his breakfast quickly, and he was good when Smiffy combed his hair. His feet wanted to twist, and his hands to move, because it hurt. Percy had the curly hair, and that made it worse. But he stood just as still as he could so it would be over sooner.
Then they walked down the stairs, and through the breakfast room, and past the blue parlor. Smiffy had her hand on his shoulder, and he stood very straight and grown-up.
They came to Mama's room. Mama said 'Thank you Miss Smith. I will ring for you later.' That is what Mama always said. Smiffy curtsied, proud, and said 'Yes Madam.' That is what she always did.
Then it was just Percy and Mama. He gave her his big smile, and she smiled right back. Her smile was the kind that made beautiful little lines around her eyes and on her nose. They made him think of the ripples on the folly duck pond.
“Come sit,” she said. That made the butter flood his mouth, and he saw the pretty yellow all around her.
Percy climbed up the side of the wing chair and sat.
Mama was working with her pen and ink. But these were not her pretty letters making words, that she explained to him. Percy could see that these were rows of long numbers. There were letters off to the side, but they seemed to make little words that stopped before they got started. They looked sad.
“What are those?”
“I am going over accounts today, Percy. Those numbers are costs-- money spent. You can help, if you wish. Are your hands clean?”
“Oh yes.” He held them up with his fingers wide, so she could see. Big people always asked if his hands were clean.
“Good,” she said.
She wrote the numbers all across the middle of the page. 1,2,3, all the way to 12.
“Some things I have to divide in half, ” she said.
“Div-ide?” he did not know that word. He did not much like the feel of it either.
“Yes,” said Mama. “Because we have two houses.”
“Here and London.”
Mama looked at him a moment with her hand on her chin.
“ I Can teach you,” she said.
Percy gave an interested wiggle. He could not wiggle much. There was not much room in the chair. Mama was wide.
“ We will start with four.” she said. “Put up four fingers.”
Four was Percy's favorite number. It looked like a friendly chair. It did not have a taste, but it was round and cozy.
“So,” Mama said “We have four here. But we have to give the same to each house. So we have to divide, equally.” She touched his fingers-- counted them aloud. “1,2,3,4.” That was just to remind him.
Then she folded two of his fingers down. “Two go away to London,” she said. “Two stay here.”
He could feel the balance on his hand. Two up, two gone away. Just right.
“Let's do another one.”
“You do this one.” Mama held up her hands , all of one hand, and one finger from the other.
Percy counted up to six. Six reminded him of the kitchen cat, fat on the bottom, but looking around. She helped him fold down three of her pretty fingers. He could see that it was right.
“Now,” Mama said, 'What if we wished to do seven?”
She held up seven fingers. Seven shivered down his back.
“Oh. I don't like the pointed ones.” Percy said.
“Hmm.” . She nodded. He could see that she was thinking. “Show me the pointed ones.” She said. Quick as a wink, he pointed to 1 and 3, and 5, and 7.
“They are pointed.” She agreed. “Cold too. We can learn those another day.”
“They are like--”
“Ice.” She finished for him.
“You see it too?” Percy could feel his mouth smiling open, swimming with butter, and the yellow of Mama all around.
“Shh.” She said.