He then did what he always did best at home: fade into the scenery. It wasn't very hard, considering how his older brother was a football player at the college and his older sister was always getting the attention of the boys at school, not to mention his baby sister who was currently teething.
He went to his room and played with his half of the debate, hoping he wouldn't freeze under the gaze of his classmates. After a while of this Rick walked to the backyard and watched the sun go down, and wrote a quick little poem about it.
The boy looked at his newest creation and smiled. It had come to him in a bright flash of inspiration, and it wasn't half bad.
Rick's face turned up into a grin. No, it was really good, and he had to share it with someone.
He walked back into the house and was assaulted by the typical batch of sounds and smells that always came with dinner in the Ginsburg family's home. He could hear his baby sister Gabby cooing to herself in Baby Latin in the kitchen. His father and Mike, his brother, were both on the couch watching the Cubs get whipped by the White Sox.
Mom was shouting something that involved his name, and so he went off into the kitchen in search of her.
Rick's mother was bent over the stove, stirring a big pot. It smelled like beef stew, and Rick's stomach grumbled as the smell tempted his nostrils. Then his mother's voice brought him down to reality.
"Where have you been? I asked someone to come help me about five times, now."
"Sorry, Ma," Rick replied. "I was outside. I wrote this great poem, let me read it to you."
It was then that Gabby took the opportunity to spill her cup all across the kitchen tiles.
"Oh, great!" shouted Mom. "Rick, clean that mess up."
He sighed and knelt down before his little sister, who could now walk. "You did that on purpose," he said teasingly as he tickled her stomach. Gabby responded with giggles and a cherubic smile.
"Rick! Don't play with your sister, just clean up that drink!"
"Yes, ma'am," he said, jumping up and getting a wad of Brawny paper towels from the counter. He then proceeded to wipe up the spilt drink.
"No use crying over spilt Kool-Aid," he told his sister as he tossed the sopping paper towels into the garbage can.
"Take her into the living room, would you? She's too much of a handful for me right now," his mom asked, not taking her eyes off the buns cooking in the oven.
Rick scooped the toddler, who was starting to get a little too heavy for him, and walked back into the living room, playing peek-a-boo with her the whole way.
"Hey, Dad, Mom said to keep an eye on Gabby."
Rick's father nodded and motioned for him to let go of his sister without being able to take his eyes from the game.
"Think Dougal will be able to come back later?" Mike asked his dad, just as enraptured by the TV.
"Of course he will," Stan Ginsburg said, taking a swig from his beer bottle. "Only a sissy wouldn't come back from a little hurt like that."
Rick eyed his sister and the way both of the other men paid her no heed, then scooped her back up and walked to Summer's room. It was one of the facts of his life that Rick had come to accept that his father would never be able to appreciate poetry, and he was not going to waste his time trying. Mike shared the same sentiments as his father, which also precluded him from the little piece Rick was trying to share.
Music wafted from the closed door of his older sister Summer's room. One of those pop bands that came and went, he was sure.
"Hey, Summer!" he yelled, loud enough for her to hear over the radio. He shifted Gabby around in his arms to free a hand and knocked on the door. "I need you for a second!"
Rick waited patiently for his sister to open the door (it was another fact of life that he had learned very early on, and that was to NEVER open your sister's door unless you had express written consent) and distracted himself by cooing at the toddler.
Summer opened her door and looked at him. "What is it, Rick?" In response Gabby was thrust into her arms as he entered her room.
"Need to keep the baby busy for a while, ok?"
She nodded and let Gabby go on the floor and then shut the door. "So what do you want?" she asked. "Who invited you in?"
Rick only held up his small notebook. "I have your signature in here somewhere."
She smiled at him as she turned off her stereo. "Another poem?"
"Yep." It was one of the things he loved most about his sister, the way she loved his poetry and would always listen to it.
Rick cleared his throat and spoke. "I haven't titled it yet, but I think I'll call it Sunset."
Summer waved her hand at him as she sat down in her chair and Socks, the family cat, took residence in her lap.
He cleared his throat again and spoke.
"God turns out the light,
Thanks alot, big guy.
It was the best one yet.
Same time, same place?
I look forward to it."
Summer seemed to turn the poem in her head as she stroked Socks's fur. The old cat made sounds of lazy contentment and stared up at Rick with feline impassivity
"Not bad," she finally said. "Not your greatest, but not bad at all. I like it."
Rick smiled gratefully. "That's all that matters, then, isn't it?"
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