Remedy by Wanda Snow Porter - Read Online
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Everything in thirteen-year-old Tim McGrew’s life stinks. It was bad enough his dad left, but even worse, he must move to his grandparent’s remote ranch on Nowhere Mountain, leave his friends and school behind, and give up playing baseball.

He loves his whacky grandma and enjoyed summer visits at the ranch backpacking and horseback riding with his grandpa. But now Grandpa is dead. And Tim and his dog, Tiny, are the only males in a house full of women. To top off his problems, Grandma adopts a wild burro from the Bureau of Land Management and expects him to train it.

Tim hopes it’s true that Grandpa’s ghostly vibes still linger around the ranch because he needs help taming the long-eared donkey with a noisy bray, and even more important, needs advice on how to get his parents back together.

Published: Whimsical Publications on
ISBN: 9781936167777
List price: $2.99
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Remedy - Wanda Snow Porter

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Chapter One

~Moving to Geema’s~

I was sick of sitting in a back seat crowded with suitcases, staring at Dare To Be Different, a stupid bumper sticker my sisters glued on the sun visor. I didn’t even have to dare to be. Living at Geema’s would be different and probably not good different.

First off, being yanked out of eighth grade during winter break to change schools was a lousy idea. Underwood Middle School was way bigger than the peanut-sized school in Juniper and had the best baseball team ever. And the teachers were great at Underwood. Even old Mr. Foxworth was nice. When I got a lousy D on an English test, he patted my shoulder, looked over the rim of his glasses, and said, Remember, Tim McGrew, it’s up to you.

Besides, my dog Tiny was a city dog. He may hate living on a ranch. Really, it wasn’t a ranch, only a few acres in the mountains on a narrow, twisty-hairpin road, four miles from a town where there was only a dinky school, a grocery store, and the tavern where Mom would be working.

That was it. That was the whole cow town of Juniper, California where we were heading. I couldn’t believe we were moving. I had lived in Fresno all my life. Ever since I was born, I had slept in the same bedroom.

Let’s not move, I pleaded for the hundredth time. Turn around. Moving is a big mistake.

Mom glanced at me in the rearview mirror. Don’t worry. You’ll like living at the ranch. It won’t take long to make new friends. You’ll see.

I hugged Tiny and scratched behind his ear. I don’t want to live in the country and make new friends. I like my old ones, my baseball team, my school, our old house. I hate moving! And so does Tiny!

Mom stared straight ahead.

From the front seat, Betz turned and screeched, Tim, shut up! You’re such a brat! It’s hard for Mom too. Do you think we want to move either? Quit complaining!

Yes, quit complaining, Polly agreed. We’ll miss our friends too.

Polly Parrot. Polly Parrot. I squawked like a bird and fake laughed. Ha ha haa. You repeat everything Betz says. Don’t you ever think for yourself? My know-it-all sisters thought that because they were older, they were wiser. If Dad were here, he’d be on my side. Yeah, except if Dad were here, we wouldn’t be moving.

Moving had messed up my sisters’ lives too. Instead of spending their senior year having fun at Fresno High School, they’d be home schooled. Even if it was a crummy one, at least I’d be going to school in Juniper. And they were right about Mom not wanting to move. After going to bed at night, I heard her crying.

I rolled down the window and worked at not complaining again. After three boring hours, we finally reached a long row of mailboxes. Mom turned onto a graveled road, and the van jostled and bumped another slow mile before we got to Geema’s house. Mom parked, and Tiny jumped out of the van, and stiff-tailed, trotted around looking for the right bush. After using it, he cautiously explored the weedy yard.

Tinkling spoon-and-tin-can wind chimes dangled under the eaves of a rundown, two-story house. A brick path led to an unlocked front door, and we trekked into the living room. Tiny sniffed a green futon couch and then jumped into a beanbag chair, circling in it to lie down. In the kitchen, the stink of broccoli abused my nose.

The house was empty.

Geema must be in the barn feeding the animals, Mom said.

Let’s go, Tiny, I said, and he tracked behind me, sniffing barnyard smells. Tiny was a Puhuahua—a Pug-Chihuahua mutt mix—but thought he was a hound dog like my friend Mike’s dog.

We moseyed across a wide patch of driveway to a barn that looked almost as beat up as the house where a burro and an old black and white speckled gelding shared a stall. Mother, are you in here? Mom hollered.

Geema peered down from the hayloft, holding a pitchfork full of hay. It’s getting late. I was beginning to worry. That windy road is a scary drive after dark. She tossed the hay down into the stall’s manger, climbed down the loft’s ladder, and then stretched her arms wide. My girls. Come and give me a hug.

My sisters, Mom, and Geema did a group hug, and then Geema turned to me. My Tim-Tom.

I was named Timothy Thomas, after my late grandpa, Pop. So Geema called me Tim-Tom. It’s better than being called Tiny Tim, Pop said when I complained.

Straw clung to her loosely braided cranberry-colored hair. Her wool shirt smelled like oat hay as her stringy arms wrapped around my shoulders, crunching me against her. She released me from her grasp and picked up a grain bucket. Would you give this to Gumbo?

The Appaloosa gelding lifted his head out of the manger and grumbled a nicker. Hi, Gumbo ol’ boy, I said, and hung the bucket over the stall door. Where’s Matilda?

Last month, Matilda closed her sweet eyes forever. Poor Gumbo misses her. Geema hugged her chest and shivered. It’s cold, let’s go into the house. I’ve got a broccoli quiche ready to bake and chicken ready to fry.

Yuck, broccoli. I could hardly wait.

Inside the house, my sisters raced upstairs. This room is ours, Betz yelled. Both my sisters were seventeen, but Betz had been born exactly nine minutes before Polly. They weren’t identical twins, but were both blondes like Dad. After Mom bleached her dark brown hair, standing next to them with my vampire black hair, I looked adopted.

Of course, they chose the biggest room with red-flowered wallpaper. I didn’t want it. I would rather have the shadowy bedroom with a window overlooking the barnyard where I always slept on summer visits. Downstairs, next to Geema’s, was Mom’s room where she and Dad stayed when they were here together.

What would Dad do if he knew we’d moved? He always said Geema was an Eeek-cent-trick old hippie, living in the middle of nowhere in a broken down old house. He’d screech, Eeek, eeek, eeek, and said Geema rode a broomstick after midnight. About two months ago, I was surprised when Dad said he wouldn’t be living with us anymore. He packed his suitcase, hugged my sisters and me, and said goodbye. We hadn’t seen him since. Where was he? Probably right now, he was driving his semi truck and forgetting about us.

It was rotten he never called. But just because he and Mom separated, he couldn’t have just forgotten about us, could he? I’d bet when he found out we’d moved to Geema’s, he’d come here, make up with Mom, and then we’d move back home.

I unpacked my stuff and tossed my clothes in the dresser drawers. I pulled my baseball team’s blue Rangers cap out of my suitcase and put it on. When I wore a cap around Betz, she would flatten my ears against my head with her fingers and say, Wearing a cap makes your ears stick out like a monkey’s. With those brown eyes, you’ll be handsome if you ever grow into them.

Who cared what Betz thought? I liked my big ears. Before Pop died, we had ear-wiggling contests. I looked in the mirror and raised my eyebrows and wiggled my ears like he taught me.

If I were home, I’d be playing baseball right now. I grabbed my bat and went outside to find a good place in the yard to practice. To improve my batting average, coach recommended taking 100 swings a day. I found a level spot, took my batter’s stance, and imagined a pitch coming, then, swoosh, swung my bat. Tightening my grip, I swung again.

A huge poinsettia bush overflowing with fiery red flowers grew a few feet away. If I couldn’t play baseball, why not play flowerball? I strode over to the bush, took my stance, swung at eye level, and then—splat—made flower contact. Then—wham—home run. Wham—line drive. Wham. Wham. Wham. Then I swung at the high ones until my arms ached. When I quit playing destructo flowerball, shredded flowers lay scattered around my feet. White, pus-like sap bled from whacked stems. Only a few flowers clung to the top branches.

Noticing a tap-tap-tap, I turned. Uh-oh, Mom tapped at the kitchen window, curling her finger, signaling me to come into the house.

Chapter Two

~Chicken Bones~

Before going into the house, I found a hose and washed my sticky bat. Mom would be mad at me for beating up Geema’s flowers and might take my bat away, so I crept upstairs, and along with my mitt, hid it in the back corner of my closet.

Slinking downstairs, I went into the kitchen expecting a scolding. I kept my eyes on the floor when Mom said, I understand moving is upsetting, but don’t take it out on Geema’s flowers. Besides setting the table, you’ll wash dishes tonight. And apologize to Geema.

Hanging my head, I turned to Geema. I’m sorry I wrecked your flowers.

I set the table, and then we all sat and closed our eyes. I felt as small as a gnat when Geema prayed, "Dear God. Thank you for the poinsettias. They were beautiful. And thank you for providing a fat hen. Thank you, chicken, for giving your life for our tasty dinner. May your soul rest in peace. Amen."

Geema believed animals had souls, and before we ate them, we should thank them for providing us dinner. She said prayers would get rid of the negative energy left behind after our dinner met its earthly end.

Have some quiche, Mom said.

No stinky broccoli for me. I passed the disgusting veggie concoction to Polly. Tiny drooled and watched me load my plate with chicken. I snuck him a greasy bite under the table.

Eat some broccoli and no feeding Tiny from the table, Mom said. And don’t give him any chicken bones. He might choke.

Mom said that every time we ate chicken. Yet she never worried I might choke to death from a putrid piece of broccoli.

Tiny followed Geema when she went to the sink to scrape her plate. Tiny, I bet you like broccoli. Here’s a little piece for you. The little traitor snatched it out of her hand and swallowed it whole.

Geema squeezed dish soap into the sink, filling with hot water.