Aunt Minnie Is Coming!

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Joseph Anderson Donetti let the screen door bang behind him. He walked across the porch and stopped at the edge with the toes of his sneakers hanging over. They almost touched the tops of the perky daffodils blooming below.

Joseph was proud of those daffodils. They were the very first flowers he had planted all by himself. He had buried the fat, brown bulbs a long time ago in the fall. Then it seemed like it took forever for the green stems and long leaves to push their way up through the soil. But now his daffodils were tall, bright yellow flowers. They nodded in the soft breeze. Joseph thought they looked like little ladies in old-fashioned bonnets quietly whispering together. Maybe, Joseph thought, he would be a gardener when he grew up.

Mrs. Evans’ minivan turned into the driveway next door. As soon as it stopped, the passenger door burst open and Mac bounced out. “Guess what! Guess what! Guess what!” she shouted as she hurtled across the grass, waving a pink envelope. “Guess what!” she exclaimed as she jumped up the porch steps.

“Your house is on fire!” Joseph answered.

“What?” Mac whirled around to look at her house. “What? My house is not on fire! What a horrible thing to say!”

Joseph grinned. “I don’t think you could run any faster if it were,” he said. “And how can I ‘guess what’ anyway? How am I supposed to know what you’re talking about?”

Mac waved the envelope under his nose. “I got a letter from my aunt Minnie. She’s coming to visit us! My aunt Minnie! I haven’t seen her for four years!”

“Maybe she doesn’t like you very much,” Joseph teased.

“She lives in Alaska!” Mac exclaimed, insulted. “A person can’t just come from Alaska any old time they want to!” Mac twirled across the porch. “My aunt Minnie is coming! You’ll love her! Maybe if there’s still snow on Mount Ashland, she’ll take me snowboarding.”

“You don’t know how to snowboard,” Joseph reminded her.

“Well, she can teach me!” Mac retorted. “And maybe if you’re nice, she’ll teach you too.”

“Mac!” Mrs. Evans called. “Come get your school books out of the van and empty your lunch bag.”

“I’ll be back,” Mac said as she flew off the porch in one big bound. She trotted backwards across the lawn. “Maybe Aunt Minnie will make apple pie while she’s here. She makes the best apple pie in the world!”

Apple pie, Joseph thought. He licked his lips, turned around, and opened the kitchen door. “Can you make apple pie?” he asked.

G.M. looked up with a tiny frown. “I’m trying to balance my checkbook,” she answered. “And you want to talk about my making apple pie?”

Joseph grinned. “Can I make one?” he asked.

G.M. tossed her pencil down on the table. “Certainly not!” she answered. “Of course, you could make an apple pie if I taught you how. But not right now! I can’t help you right now.”

Joseph scuffed his sneaker back and forth on the floor. “Maybe I’ll be a cook when I grow up, and then I can cook whatever I want, whenever I want to.”

“Sounds good to me,” G.M. said. She picked up her pencil and sighed. “And maybe you can be an accountant, too. Then you can balance my bank statement for me every month.”

“I don’t think I want to be an accountant,” Joseph said. “‘Accountant’ is an ugly word.”

G.M. laughed. “That’s quite a way to pick a career, or not pick a career!” she said. She began to write on a piece of paper.

There was a thud on the back porch, and Joseph moved to open the door.

“G.M.! Guess what! Guess what!” Mac shouted. “My aunt Minnie is coming to visit us! Can you believe it?”

“She hasn’t been here for a long time,” G.M. answered, setting her pencil down on the table. “Is she still teaching school up in Alaska?”

Mac nodded. “She wrote me a letter. She said she has 22 students this year. Twenty-two students in the first and second grades. They probably get to have snowball fights every recess! They probably get to go dog sled riding and snowboarding too.”

“How do you fit 22 kids into an igloo?” Joseph asked.

Mac threw herself into a chair. “She doesn’t teach in an igloo, Silly! She lives in a city. I forgot the name of it, but it’s a city.”

G.M. raised her eyebrows and looked at Joseph. “An igloo?” she repeated. “Are you serious? I think I have just decided on something we need to study. Alaska.”

Joseph leaned against the sink. “See?” he asked Mac. “Whenever she thinks I don’t know enough about something—even if I’m only teasing, we study it for school.”

“That’s what so great about home-school,” Mac said a little wistfully. “There are all sorts of things I want to learn about, and they’re not usually the things in my school books. But,” she sat up straight, “my aunt Minnie’s coming! I can’t wait! That’s not her real name, you know. Her real name is Minerva. I think that’s a very strange name. My mom says Aunt Minnie was named after her grandmother. I think ‘Minnie’ is a cute name, though. It sounds like teeny-weeny, very small, and mini. And that’s a joke! My aunt Minnie is very tall. Not mini at all!”

“Maybe I’ll be a pastor!” Joseph interrupted.

There was silence. Mac and G.M. simply looked at him.

“Yeah,” Joseph said, grinning. “I could preach a sermon about Mac! How she thinks her aunt Minnie is the greatest, and she can’t wait to see her. Mac will probably tell everybody in the world that her aunt Minnie is coming. That’s how we should be about Jesus,” Joseph went on. “We should tell everybody how great He is and that we can’t wait until He comes!”

A slow smile spread over G.M.’s face.

“So maybe I’ll be a pastor when I grow up.” Joseph shrugged his shoulders. “Or maybe I’ll be one of those guys who holds up the stop sign and makes a whole line of cars stop for road construction!”

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