Chapter 4. “Bon Voyage!“

 

Party favors from Chinatown: when you pull the string,
they explode with a loud noise and smell of gunpowder. We
put on the ribbons: they come with just plain string.

 

 

Pictures from the fairy tale “East of the
Sun and West of the Moon.”

The first thing my father asked my mother about at dinner (we were having a family “Bon Voyage”party for my father, with poppers from Chinatown as party favors) was the tea party, and she said,

“I think it was interesting for everyone.”If that was some kind of code, my father didn't get it. No one said anything else about the tea party or the china barrel.

When we came downstairs the next morning our parents were both up and dressed! (Usually on weekend mornings we get up way before they do.)


My father was in his work clothes and a suitcase was standing next to his briefcase. He looked really excited - he was leaping around my mother, laughing and trying to pick her up. She was shaking her head and kind of pushing him away but kind of not.


“Come and give me a kiss, kids,”he said. “The next time you see me will be in England!”


“In London?” I said- I was excited, too, about going on the boat and everything.


“No, I'll meet you where the boat docks and we'll all take a train together to London.”


That sounded fun, too - I was about to ask if we would walk down a gangplank and he would be standing at the bottom of it, waving to us - when Emmy started to cry. My father stood still and looked sad for a second.


“Aw, Em, don't cry,” he said, picking her up. “It's not very long until November tenth.”


“I bet that's the day the boat - the Liberty! - docks!” I said.


“Why can't we all go together?”Emmy said.


“I have to find a place for us to live, and a school for you and Libby, and your mother has to pack and get your passports and rent the house,” he said, and looked at my mother eagerly. “Right, Sall?”


My mother nodded; she didn't look excited at all.


“Don't worry, you'll get it done, there's time,”he said, putting Emmy down.


Then he gave her a big hug and said it was time to leave.


“So long, shorty! Be good!”to said to me and bent down for us all to kiss him.


After my father left, we didn't have dining room dinners anymore - we ate in the kitchen and our mother let us talk as much as wanted. We got to miss school for our passport picture. People came to look at the house, and my mother's friends came over a lot to help - they brought their children, and we played with them, and she let The Gang play inside, too.


But one day, she said NO ONE ELSE COULD COME OVER UNTIL WE WERE DONE PACKING. We couldn't even go outside and play! She said:

“Have you decided yet which three books or toys you're going to take?”


“Not quite,” I said. I HAD been thinking about it, though. “Peter Pan (because it was my first favorite book) and Little Women (because it's my favorite book now), but I'm not sure about the third thing.”


I was hesitating between my six-shooter and its holster (which I hoped would count as one thing) or a perfume bottle my grandmother had given me that had once belonged to a real princess. I liked it because of that, and because of its color (dark green glass with a few tiny white leaves and real gold top) and shape. I was also thinking of Grimm's Fairy Tales, because it was the longest, thickest book I had, and I like fairy tales -- especially “Rumplestiltskin” and “One Eyes, Two Eyes, and Three Eyes”(that little table that spreads itself with a white cloth and food!). It was a hard choice.

“I've ALMOST decided on Grimm's Fairy Tales,” I said. Privately, I was also planning to bring my little metal horse: it was so small that I could put it in a pocket, or around my wrist with its chain bridle.


“Well, you can be thinking about it while you pack and sort your papers,”my mother said, opening the big drawer where we keep our old drawings and stories.


“You need to throw out - ”she hesitated, then took out two big piles - “about that many papers each.”


She gave one pile to Emmy and one to me.


“I'll come back to check on you in fifteen minutes.”


We sat down with our piles: When I found something of Emmy's, I handed it to her; when she found something of mine, she handed it to me, as usual.

But usually our mother looks at the things with us. We all - including our mother - talk about what we find and other things, too; it's fun.


But that day, she didn't look at anything, even after she said she would “supervise“ (usually, that means she does most of whatever it is, but when we sort, she just watches).


She did sit down on the bed. But she kept jumping up to go pack things, and then running back in to hurry us along, instead of admiring our drawings and stories with us as usual. She did look at one of Emmy's old drawings and listen to me read one of my Silly Witch stories out loud, though. Then I found an old paper doll book.

 

Wendy and Peter, when she went back
to Nevernever Land. Someone (not me)

scribbled on most of the pictures, but
it's still a beautiful book.

 

 

 

"Rumpletstiltskin":this was on the wall at school. It's not a good
drawing, but the teacher put it up anyway because she said it showed
the story well.

 

 

 

One day the Witch said,

“ I will fool those little kids. I'm hurrying.”

And then she hurried down
to the store.

“ Um,” she said.
“ What do you want?'“ said the ghost, for it was the
ghost store.“I want to buy some apples.“
“ Do you have to? ”
“ Yes I need them!”she shouted.
So they gave her a bag of rotten apples.
“ For Pete's sake! ” said the Witch. “Of all the
crazy things...”

Part of the Silly Witch story I read.

“Annie Oakley! I've been wondering where this was!” I said. “Remember, I got it for my birthday and I never cut out ONE outfit: look, they're all still in here. Even Annie Oakley is still here - where are the scissors?”

“I thought you didn't like paper dolls,”our mother said. She does; sometimes she cuts out with us. It's true that usually I don't: if you make a mistake cutting out their faces, they look funny; and the little tabs that hold on the clothes (and the clothes themselves) rip and fall off so easily.

“I like Annie Oakley,”I said.

The cover showed Annie riding a galloping horse with her elbows sticking out. Inside were cowboy boots and buckskin jackets and cowgirl skirts and gun holsters. “Where are the scissors?”

“No!” our mother said. She hardly ever says no like that. “Tomorrow the movers are coming while you're in school and the next day we're leaving. You need to do this now.”


“Is tomorrow our last day of school?“ I said, and she said it was.


The real Annie Oakley, who was the
best shot in the West. She met her husband
when she beat him in a shooting contest.

Go to the next chapter

 

Go back to the list of chapters and stories

Blow Out the Moon is in many libraries and some bookstores. If you see it with only its spine showing, please turn it face out so people will see it! Thank you. It's also online at amazon.

Blow Out the Moon (former title There and Back Again) copyright 1999, 2000 Libby Koponen. All rights reserved. The pictures of ocean li ners are from the collection of Kevin R. Tam. Used with permission.

 

 

On the back of this it said, in my mother's handwriting, "Libby,
first dayof second grade."

You can order the whole book now from barnesandnoble, amazon, etc.or, starting in June, buy it in bookstores....and maybe your local library will have it, too.

 

It's 224 pages. Look for it and tell me what you think!