The Soap Bubble Boy
©2001 Stuart B Baum
Illustrations by Fred Plewa
Ages: 5 and up
Okay. I admit that I deserved it, but bigger brothers have been doing this for years and I don’t think it has ever happened to any of them. So why me?
But, anyway, here’s what happened. My stinky little sister Katrina was out in the back yard blowing soap bubbles, the kind that make rainbows. She was trying to see how far they’d float. I was out there reading a book. Honest! Well, I had to because I had a book report due the next week. So it’s true.
But, anyway, it was one the those warm Spring days and it was hard to read with all the other kids running around in their back yards and me stuck reading a book. It was a good book, I admit, but it was a still a book. It was about some kid who got caught stealing some basketball player’s sneakers and was sent to the desert to dig holes in the dirt, but anyway, I was more watching Katrina blow bubbles than I was reading the book and I decided that I’d have some fun. I walked around, pretending to read while I was walking, and tried to look like I just happened to get in the way of her bubbles. That they bumped into me and popped. Not the other way around.
Of course she yelled at me every time a bubble hit me, but I couldn’t hear her because I was reading my book. Well, you know that’s not true, but she didn’t. Then the game sort of turned into me not even trying to pretend to read my book and simply popping her bubbles.
She got madder and madder. And the madder and madder she got, well, the more fun it became for me, I guess. She deserved it, though. She had no homework to do. Well, she did have homework, but she had finished it and second graders have so little homework to do it’s unfair.
“Don’t!” she yelled for maybe the tenth time and then, finally, said, “Please stop,” which is what we use when we really want someone to stop doing something. Mom and Dad say that if they hear either one of us say “Please stop” twice then the other one is in trouble. But Mom was still at work and Dad was in the front working on the garden, so no one would hear her even if she said it a hundred times.
"Okay,” I said and started reading my book again. But soon the next bubble came my way, which is where they were all going. No accident, since I could tell which way the wind was blowing. She was trying to see if she could get one to float all the way over the fence into the sick old lady’s lawn. Mom said she had some brain disease and was in the hospital, but she was really sweet every time I saw her so I think maybe Mom is wrong about the brain disease, because don’t brain diseases just make you crazy and angry and yell at little kids thinking they are your children even though your children are now grown and have kids of their own?
But anyway, the bubble came my way and I sort of leaned my elbow out and it popped.
Boy was Stinky Kat mad! She actually started crying over a stupid soap bubble! Can you believe it? But she was always turning on the tears to try to get Mom and Dad on her side. So I said I was sorry. I did. And I said I wouldn’t do it again and that she should try to see if the next one would make it all the way over the fence.
The next one was a really nice bubble. Not too big, not too small. Very round and not at all wobbly. You know how some of them are all wobbly and drippy and you know they’ll just pop all by themselves? Well, this one wasn’t like that at all. And as it left her, her- what do you call those things? Wands? That’s a stupid name, but I can’t think of a better one right now. If I had time, I could. But anyway, when it started to come towards me, I knew this one would make it over the fence. And so did Katrina. It started off higher than the rest and was far enough away from the house, but not so far away that it’d get popped by the cherry tree branches. I was going to let it go. I was. But she gave me such a mean look that, well, I had to pop it, now.
But I waited. I followed it towards the fence, reaching my finger close to it, teasing her. And pretending to pop it and then pulling away at the last second.
Stinky Kat got up off the picnic table bench. She put her hands on her hips like she was my boss or something and said, “If you pop it, I’ll tell Dad.”
Like Dad would do anything bad to me for popping a stupid soap bubble. He’d say something like ‘stop bothering your sister aren’t you supposed to be reading your book don’t you know your book report is due Tuesday and maybe this is why you’re not getting straight As like your stinky sister.’ Though I guess he wouldn’t say ‘stinky.’
Just as it was going to go over the fence and just as I had decided, I think, to let it go so I wouldn’t have to hear her whine all day, she said, “If you pop it, I hope you’ll pop.”
That did it! For a smart girl, sometimes she says the dumbest things! “Yeah, right,” I said and poked my finger at the bubble.
I felt my finger touch the soapy bubble and even felt the bubble sort of ‘pop’, but instead of the bubble popping, I did. I think I did, anyway, and Stinky Kat said that I did afterwards, but it I felt more like I melted. But really quickly. I mean, like really, really quickly. Like when one of those window stickers suddenly peels off a window all by itself. You know what I mean? Like the very last sliver of ice melting in hot chocolate. It’s there, then it looks like it’s still there, but it’s really completely gone? It was weird. Up from my toes and down from my head at the same time.
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