Pretty Souls

The dryer died on Tuesday. But it wasn't like when Cushy died. No. Cushy's death was tragic and horrific. And that had been on a Wednesday. I remember; the garbage man had come on that day.

This time though, it was the death of a machine eight years past its warranty. And it wasn't very dramatic. Kind of like when a car runs out of gas. It just sort of stops. Except it did groan. I remember the groan because I thought maybe I'd dropped Slip in there with the clothes. That would have made it groan. Slip would have dug his claws through the metal.

Slip was fine. But I had wet clothes that needed to be dried. And I didn't know how to dry them. So I went online to the Internets and ran an advanced Google search. I like to think I am good with computers. I even have Google as my home page. I taught myself how to do that.

I teach myself all sorts of things. Like how to make a clothesline. That was what I searched for on Google. So I climbed my apple tree and used four skipping ropes to reach the porch railing. Then I hung up my clothes with paperclips.

While I worked, I decided that I would not get a new dryer. It was one of the most peaceful activities I have ever done: standing up by the apple tree, breathing the morning air that smelled like my pa's camp, and hanging my clothes to dry. That was the way it should be done. No noisy machines. No artificial, dry air. And it's not like I was embarrassed by my spiderman underwear.

But when I had finished, I heard someone. They were talking to me. But I didn't know where they were.

"Hey," said the voice, "I think you ought to know: you've got an odd number of socks on the line."

I looked around, but I couldn't see anyone. It felt strange. Kind of like how I feel when I stand in the doctors' room while they're telling each other secrets. It was a vulnerable feeling.

Instead of counting my socks, I asked, "Where are you?"

The voice smiled at me. I can tell with things like that. Her blues eyes were smiling too. Then she said, "Look up, silly."

I looked up. It was a blue sky. And the clouds were like cotton candy. The tufts that get away and float across the fairground while the kids leap and jump at them with sticky fingers.

"Not in the sky. I'm not an angel."

"You're not?" It was a funny question to ask. I almost chuckled at it. But who was I to question if an angel had decided to comment on my socks?

"Of course not, silly. I'm on the roof."

I craned my neck further because the house was behind me, and I almost fell over. But the speaker was not looking over the edge. She was sitting cross-legged where I couldn't see her.

"Why are you on my roof?" I asked. I don't know why I asked that. I should have asked her how she got up there. Then maybe she could show me how. I've always wanted to sit on my roof. That way I'd be able to see the sunrise while I eat my breakfast. Maybe I'd even keep a chair up there.

She didn't answer, so I asked my second question. "Can you show me how to get up there?"

"Hmm? No." There was a silence as she gazed thoughtfully over the neighboring houses. What a view she must have.

I was about to look for the missing sock when she finally did respond.

"Can you see me?" she asked.

I looked up. The blue sky was colored straight up to the edge of the roof with no one to see. Why would she ask me that? She was still sitting cross-legged.

"No," I said, "you're still sitting down."

She smiled again. I wish I could have seen it. It would have been beautiful. Maybe it would have reminded me of little Anne.

"If you can't see me, then how do you know I am sitting?" she asked.

I rubbed my nose. That was a silly question. It was the kind the doctors would ask. "Why don't you come down?" I asked instead.

"I like it up here." She was smiling again. It wasn't one of those good-humored smiles that come and go. She was truly happy. It was one of those smiles that had to show up because of what was going on down below. She had a pretty soul. I liked it.

"Can I come up?" I asked.

"I don't know. Can you?"

She was challenging me. I liked challenges. Maybe I could look it up on Google. But first I would stroll around the house and look for any ideas. I remember in fifth grade I'd climbed on the school roof for a picnic. But then Tony told on me to Principal Trevor. I only missed one class. But then they made me miss even more classes because I had to be disciplined elsewhere. That's when I met little Anne. So I think it was all worth it.

Now, if only I could climb to this roof I could meet someone new. But before I could open the gate to the side, she spoke again.

"Hold on Lowelle, I can see your sock."

I frowned. No she couldn't. "Where?" I asked.

"Slip's got it in his mouth."

My eyes went wide. Slip was standing in the middle of the yard. And he did have my sock. But that was not the cause of my considerable alarm! No! I was alarmed because the girl with the pretty soul who sat cross-legged on my rooftop was the first person in the world who could see my invisible cat!

"You can see Slip?" I cried.

"Yes. Just like you can see me."

I looked up to the roof, but she was still out of view. Her smile though was as clear as if we were making eye contact. She was right. I could see her.

The End

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