“May I ask you a question?” Stella said.
Stella was unfailingly polite.
“Of course,” Cricket replied.
Cricket was compulsively transparent.
Stella’s hands worked without pause. She didn’t look up.
Pearl one, knit one. Pearl one, knit one.
Cricket knew nothing about knitting, but she’d heard “Pearl one, knit one,” somewhere and imagined that’s what Stella might be silently saying to herself as the needles clicked.
“How did you get the name Cricket?”
“What did she say?” Cricket’s mother Annie asked.
Laughter always sparked something in her, despite the dementia.
“Stella wants to know how I got the nickname Cricket, Mom.”
“Oh. She wants to know how you got the name Picket.”
Her hearing was fine. Her processing not so much.
“Cricket, Mom,” she enunciated more clearly.
“Yes, that’s right.”
They sat side-by-side on a worn-out sofa. Multiple lacerations in the slip covers exposed the dull yellow foam underneath. Cricket had her arm around her mother’s shoulder; she pulled her a little closer.
“You know the expression ‘It’s just not cricket’?” Cricket directed her question at Stella.
“Yes,” Stella replied.
“It’s just not cricket,” her mother repeated.
“It means something is unfair. It means something unjust or just plain wrong is being done to someone or something. It comes from the game of cricket,” Cricket elaborated.
“Something just plain wrong is being done to someone,” her mother echoed.
“Yes, that’s right, Annie,” Stella agreed.
“Well, it’s not from that,” Cricket deadpanned. Stella chuckled. Annie looked blank.
“I was born in August, right Mom?”
“You were born in August.”
Repeating was a comfort, and Cricket helped Annie do it. It was a way for her mother to contribute to conversations, to feel connected, to express herself when other means failed.
“That’s right Mom. In August.”
Stella glanced up from her sock-in-progress, and nodded encouragingly.
“You used to tell me the crickets were in full song when I was a baby Mom, and I was really chirpy just like them–especially at night.”
“Especially at night,” Annie said.
“Yeah. So that’s how I got the name Cricket, Stella. From the mating sounds of insects on hot summer nights,” she laughed at the irony of telling the story on a blustery November afternoon fifty-five years after the fact.
This is the second instalment in a fictional series about Cricket & Annie; more here.
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