That's when I can get lots of pencils and notebooks cheep.
As I'm wandering up and down the aisles, trying to convince myself that I can survive just a few more weeks until prices start to drop like lead and I can get ten-packs of notebooks and 20+ boxes of mechanical pencils for pennies on the dollar, a seven-year-old boy comes hurling towards me pushing a buggy. I don't have time to step out of the way, and his head of brown curls is down so I'm sure he doesn't see me, so I put out my hands and stop the buggy.
"I think, young sir," I say, "that you really ought to watch where you're going."
His head shoots up and he regards me with an almost frightened expression, his blue eyes wide. He starts backing away, taking the buggy with him. A sixteen-year-old guy stops him. "Do you have anything you would like to say, Parker?" he asks in a warning tone.
The boy lowers his head. "I'm sorry ma'am. I won't do it again."
I contain my laughter and keep a straight face. "That is a noble plan, good sir, and I shall forgive thee." I turn to the older boy who, despite having bright red hair and green eyes, is clearly Parker's older brother. "I have a younger brother about his age. They can be handfuls, can't they?"
The guy's face relaxes somewhat into what is almost a smile and he rumples the boy's hair. "Yeah ... they can be." He looks familiar, and I wonder if he might be another one of my characters (they've being showing up at the oddest times of late) but I don't have any redheads with younger brothers. In fact, the only redhead I can think of off the top of my head is Andrew, but Andrew's the youngest of his family.
"My name's Kendra," I say, deciding that an introduction is in order.
"I'm Andrew," says the guy, then he nods towards his younger brother. "You've met Parker." Then he points over his shoulder towards a ten-year-old and a thirteen-year-old who are comparing lunchboxes further down the aisle. "And those are my other brothers, Kyle and Josh."
"Oh ... I see," I say, trying to keep from frowning. The names are right ... but Andrew's the youngest ... isn't he? "So you're taking advantage of tax-free weekend?" I ask.
"Of course," Andrew says. "Are you?"
I shrug. "For some things. I'm homeschooled, so I can survive until everyone is in school and the crisis is over and they start lowering prices."
"I'd like to be homeshooled," Parker pipes up.
"And you know why we aren't," says Andrew.
"Mrs. Rinolds can teach us," Parker declares.
"Go find yourself a lunchbox," Andrew orders, whirling his younger brother around and giving him a small shove in the direction of their brothers.
"You're no fun, Andrew!" Parker declares. "I wish I had a fun brother like Kevin."
I saw Andrew wince and I know that the words struck him hard. "It's not easy being an oldest sibling, is it?" I ask, knowingly.
"Especially when your dad's usually in his laboratory and your mom's ..." he trails off, and I realize that he IS my Andrew. I just had his birth order wrong.
"Well, my life isn't as bad as that," I say, shaking my head. "Though I can imagine. If it's any consolation, I've a feeling that your life is going to change for the better shortly." He gives me a confused look, so I add, "I'm also an author, Andrew Stevenson." Then I turn on my heel and walk away, leaving him utterly confused. Poor guy.
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