The Red Bucket - Caroline Costello

George watched, perplexed, as his mother paced nervously back and forth. She fumbled, for her hands shook, attempting to light another cigarette. When it lit she inhaled deeply, the putrid smell of Nicotine flooding the already saturated room. She ran her pale hands through her dark hair, pulling harshly as she hit knots. Sharp anxious rain beat against the window.

“Momma, why are you scared?”

“George, I’m not scared,” she hissed, “I’m exasperated. Aunt Laura just called. She’s at a charity thing nearby and wants to stop by after. I had no choice but to let her.” Regina Hanson glared at a red bucket collecting the product of a leak, each drop, a perfect plink.

George loved that bucket. The hue had attracted him to steal it from the sand pit at school. He relished making ships out of matchboxes, sailing and then sinking them into the dark crevasses of his bucket. Now, having it in the middle of the room to contain the leak, it was his uncharted ocean; right in the middle of things, always full.

Lightening illuminated the apartment. George watched as his bucket grew ten times brighter and he howled in excitement. It was surely the treasure of the gods.“George Timothy Hanson!” His mother’s shrill reprimand hung in the thick air.He hung his head, “I’m excited to see Aunt Laura.”

“You don’t -” Regina was interrupted by a piercing knock on the door. “*#!$&, she’s here early.” The mother paused and took a deep breath, scanning the apartment before her. She hurriedly pulled on a dirty white cardigan, and extinguished her cigarette. Regina walked towards the door, unbolting numerous heavy locks. George watched his beautiful mother worry about his lovely little warm apartment. He was concerned as to what worried her.

The heavy door swung open and noise bubbled in, supplied from abig mouthed blonde. “Hello hello!” She screeched, drawing George to stare in fascination at his aunts pink, slug lips and perfect white teeth. Weird. He hadn’t recalled this fascinating trait in his aunt.

“Wow, I didn’t realize you’re actually living here,” she proclaimed, dropping her fat Louis Vuitton in Regina’s clammy hands.

“Good to see you Laura.”

“But seriously, Regina. What are you doing living here. You told me you were just renting this shack to look for other places, and like, what.” An incredulous smile lit her face.

George sat upon the linoleum floor, perplexed. What did she have against his home?

His mother’s face was flushed, “Please, stop.”

“You know I would give you some,” Laura paused at loss for words, “financial aid...”

“Laura!” George’s mother sounded stressed. Laura’s eye caught the attention of a small movement in the corner.

“Hi there!” Laura’s syrupy voice cornered George, and he sat, paralyzed in dread. She had stopped, something had made her pause. Laura was looking at George’s red bucket with utter disgust ridden upon her face. “You, have a leak in your ceiling, and let me get this right, your fixing it with a,” she snickered, “a pathetic little sand bucket? Like, Regg, c’mon.” She looked up at the source of the leak. Paint bubbled up around the area clotted with mold. “Regina?”

George’s mother remained fixed upon looking out the window. She turned toward Laura. Tears coated her grey eyes. George stared off at his pathetic red bucket.