Iowa Writes

MADELEINE BAER
Katie (Part 3)


        On the third and last day of our stay, Carrie Mulns contacted me and told me that her and Katie would be coming back to the house that evening. Taylor and I would be leaving early the next morning, so it was no bother, we would only have to deal with them for one night. During the evening, as we waited for them to come home, Taylor practiced the grande piano in the living room and I took further advantage of the extensive library. What intrigued me most, however, was a stack of notebooks and binders underneath a little side table next to the couch. Probably old school notes from the previous year. I picked up a sketchbook of Amy's and leafed through it. A tree, a flower, and several studies of a house. The line and perspective was perfect. It could have been shown in an instructional drawing handbook. A white binder lays on the bottom of the stack. I pick it up, hoping for finished drawings, and find a waste of paper instead. At least thirty pages all with the same bubble letters drawn with magic marker: Katie Mulns-Jones. Katie Mulns-Jones. Katie Jones Katie Jones Katie Jones. Fat, childish letters filled with stripes, stars, and zig-zaggs. Only her name, not even a variation on script. How self-absorbed could you get? I hear a car pulling into the driveway and hurriedly put the binder back in its place. I try not to think too much of it, or think of it for what it is, a mindless, probably calming, habit, similar to playing a rubix cube or knitting an ugly hat that you'll never wear.

        On the third and last day of our stay, Carrie Mulns contacted me and told me that her and Katie would be coming back to the house that evening. Taylor and I would be leaving early the next morning, so it was no bother, we would only have to deal with them for one night. During the evening, as we waited for them to come home, Taylor practiced the grande piano in the living room and I took further advantage of the extensive library. What intrigued me most, however, was a stack of notebooks and binders underneath a little side table next to the couch. Probably old school notes from the previous year. I picked up a sketchbook of Amy's and leafed through it. A tree, a flower, and several studies of a house. The line and perspective was perfect. It could have been shown in an instructional drawing handbook. A white binder lays on the bottom of the stack. I pick it up, hoping for finished drawings, and find a waste of paper instead. At least thirty pages all with the same bubble letters drawn with magic marker: Katie Mulns-Jones. Katie Mulns-Jones. Katie Jones Katie Jones Katie Jones. Fat, childish letters filled with stripes, stars, and zig-zaggs. Only her name, not even a variation on script. How self-absorbed could you get? I hear a car pulling into the driveway and hurriedly put the binder back in its place. I try not to think too much of it, or think of it for what it is, a mindless, probably calming, habit, similar to playing a rubix cube or knitting an ugly hat that you'll never wear.
        Carrie Mulns opens the back door and comes in and greets us, dropping her bags on the floor. Katie follows her. It was better than I expected. A figure, from what I can tell beneath the clothes, an exquisite figure, saunters in. I can tell just by the way she walks that she is an athlete, and a quick and nimble one at that. Her hair is cut short and slicked back, not even a trendy pixie cut, just a regular boy's haircut. Nike t-shirt, Nike basketball shorts, black Nike socks, Nike sandals. Charming. She has regular brown doe's eyes and her smile is naturally wide. She has remarkably clear skin for a teenager. She's probably gay, I consider, smirking to myself, but then feel guilty for making assumptions. She's not speaking. This is new. She's smiling sheepishly, and that smile on that smooth, round face is something from a dream. But her voice— I ask how old she is—
        "Fourteen."
        It is everything. If it were a food, it would be a light and tender steak, with a side of hot, buttery rolls. Carrie Mulns asks Taylor and I how our trip was, and if we've been comfortable in the house with only the windows open and fans, and then, of course,
        "How about we go for a walk?"
        Midsummer. I'm still in my jeans from the last workshop session (I assumed it was unprofessional to wear shorts) and the fabric is sticking to me like glue, as I can't help but sweat profusely. The air is so heavy with moisture that I wonder if it's just going right through me as I breathe it in. We walk around the University campus where the workshops were and Carrie Mulns asks me all about it. Taylor is along too, and stupidly starts jabbering about the fine architecture of the buildings. I wish they would shut up. I wish, and I can't believe I'm saying this, that I could hear Katie talk again. She follows us, tripping cheerfully, and I notice that she looks at me occasionally.
        Midnight. I hear her shifting restlessly in her bedroom, only one thin wall separating the pair of us. Strange, how a touch that was once so loathsome could be so desired now, if only for the mere curiosity of it. She opens her bedroom door, not bothering to take care that it doesn't stick and make noise, and pads out in bare feet down the stairs for a glass of water. All I can see from a quick stealing glance through the crack in my open door is the taunt curves of her tiny thighs. She looks even smaller and more child-like by the half-light. I listen for her to come back up, but she doesn't, and I assume that she is downstairs reading or something. Must be a night owl, just like me. I listen for the creak of the stairs for a long time, but she is not coming up. I decide that it is late enough and switch off my light and lay down on my bed in complete and total darkness. Can't we at least be friends now, you beautiful little thing?

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


MADELEINE BAER

Madeleine Baer is a sophomore at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where she majors in writing.  She enjoys writing historical fiction and fantasy.

Madeleine was inspired to write Katie while in Iowa City during the summer of 2015.



Katie appeared on the Daily Palette in three parts.  If you missed them, be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2.

This page was first displayed
on February 18, 2016

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