Dream On by Marie Anderson

Ken has always been overshadowed by his smarter, sportier younger brother Andy; but their parents are ill at ease with one important aspect of Andy's character.

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When my little brother Andy went away to college on August 18, 2006, Mom and Dad said I could leave the basement and move into his bedroom upstairs. I been dreaming of that day. I got dropped into the basement five years ago when Gramma took over my room.

At first, Andy's room seemed totally emptied. No hangers in the closet. No Christmas tree smell from that deodorant he liked.

But my first night in his room, after Gramma helped me put all my stuff just where I wanted, I discovered Andy hadn't moved everything out.

He left behind three things.

I found them way under the bed.

I was pretty sure he hadn't left them for me.



See, the first thing I found under Andy's bed was a book, but I ain't much of a reader. Since high school, the only things I read is the cake orders at the bakery where I'm assistant head cake man.

But Mom read that Willows book every night to Andy when he was little. I couldn't sit still for boring stuff like that. I'd be rolling around on the carpet in front of the sofa where them two sat. I'd be playing with my army guys, blasting and grunting and shouting, "Sniper, Specialist, 10 o'clock! Roger that, Loot!"

Andy would complain. "Mama, I can't hear you! Kenny too loud!"

So she'd send me and my army guys down to the basement, where there was no carpet to roll around on. I had to stay down there 'til she finished reading to Andy and put him to bed.

So I know Andy hadn't left that Wind in the Willows book under his bed for me.



See, the second thing I found under Andy's bed was a fishing pole, but I ain't much of a fishing guy neither. The last time I fished was 14 years ago on my 11th birthday. It was at the lagoon in the park near our house. I broke my pole digging it into the stones I'd heaped for my army guys.

Dad didn't yell, even though it was a bamboo pole I broke that he special ordered for my birthday. But he said if I wanted another one, I'd gotta buy it myself.

A minute or so later, Andy caught his second catfish of the day. He was still only in preschool, but Dad let Andy use the really sharp knife to slice the fish up.

Catfish got really tough skin. I wanted a go at it, after all, it was my birthday we were celebrating at the lagoon. Dad said too bad, I'd gotta catch a fish first, and since I'd broke my bamboo pole, well, I never did get to use Dad's special knife on Andy's catfish.

But that night at supper, some bones from the fish Andy caught got stuck in my throat, and I got rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance. The sirens screamed and we zoomed. Man, that was something, like being in a war, and I clutched my two best army guys in my fists, and I remember Andy crying when the ambulance came because he couldn't ride along.

It turned out to be my best birthday.

So I know Andy's fishing pole hadn't been left under his bed for me.



The Playboys, well, I didn't know what to think about Andy leaving those behind when he left for college. They were shoved all the way under the bed, against the wall, exactly how I first came across them a few months earlier, back in April. It made me think Andy hadn't looked at them in a long while, and had probably forgot all about them. The note I'd stuck back in April over Miss October's important parts was still there.

I'd wrote: Whassup Andy? Sincerely, Kenny.

I thought Andy mighta laughed when he seen my note. But he never mentioned.

And here's the thing. Before I left the note on Miss October, Mom had found those Playboys first while she was vacuuming under Andy's bed.

Andy was at baseball practice when Mom found them. It was the high school spring break, but we couldn't go nowhere because Andy was one of the pitchers on the high school varsity team, and all the players had to show up for practice every day during spring break.

Andy didn't start. Sometimes he didn't even get put in if the game was close. But Dad made every game anyway, even the away ones, though he had to use his Personal Time Off hours because his boss had got tired of Dad leaving the warehouse early.

The day Mom found Andy's Playboys under his bed, I hadn't left for the bakery yet. I was in the basement, laying on my bed watching a Star Trek. I'd muted the sound because I liked to say the voices myself. So I heard Mom yelling at Gramma to hold on about making Gramma's lunch omelet because she had to call Dad about something important first.

I lifted the extension on my nightstand and listened in.

"Playboys!" Mom said to Dad. "I found a whole stack of them under Andy's bed just now when I was vacuuming!"

Dad didn't say nothing for a bit, but I could hear him breathing. Then, "No kidding. A stack of them, huh? Well, what'd I tell you, Char. You've been worrying for nothing."

"Oh right. It was all me worrying," Mom said back at him. "You're the one who's been on Andy's case about hanging out so much with that Haig."

"And you're the one who said you could drive a Hummer through that Haig's lisp."

They both chuckled, then Dad asked, "Did you leave them under his bed?"

"Of course," Mom replied.

"The May 1st deadline for that college he wants is coming up," Dad said. "Maybe we should reconsider..." And at that point, I hung up and dashed upstairs to Andy's room to have a look.

The Playboys were old. Old as me. Twenty-five years old, nine issues from the year I was born. They had softness and wrinkles. Some pages had holes where stuff had been tore out, and some of the centerfolds were missing.

Later that day, when we were all eating supper, Dad was the cheerfulest I seen him be in a long time, even to me and Gramma.

"So what shenanigans you all been up to today?" His smile boomeranged from Mom to me to Gramma and then landed on Andy and stayed there.

Andy started in on how after baseball practice he gone fishing and caught the fish Gramma was eating.

I looked at Gramma. She didn't seem to be appreciating Andy catching her dinner. Her nose was nearly touching her plate. With her fork, she was shoving her chopped spinach and boiled fish around her plate while the rest of us chewed spaghetti, meatballs, and warm garlic bread. The rest of us didn't have Gramma's diabetes-no-carbs situation, but I still thought it was kinda mean giving her crappy foods.

"I caught a second catfish even bigger than Gramma's," Andy was saying, "but I threw it back because I knew Mom was making her famous spaghetti and meatballs for the rest of us tonight."

Mom and him exchanged lippy smiles.

"Hey!" I said. "I decorated a six-layer wedding cake today. And it's gonna have one of them lighted-up fountains in the middle."

"One of those fountains," Mom said.

"Hey, that's nice, Kenny," Dad said. He shot me a thumbs up. "You the main man." But then he looked back at Andy.

"Who you go fishing with, Andy?" he asked.

"Yup," I said. "I musta went through three bags of pink buttercream on that wedding cake. Musta swirled out 500 bitty roses all over that sucker."

"Must have gone through," Mom said.

"Say, Kenny," Gramma said. Bits of fish spotted her lips. "When's your wedding?"

"Whoa, Gramma," I said. "I'm decorating a cake for a customer's wedding. Not mine."

"But when's your wedding, Kenny?" Gramma asked. "I've had dreams about it."

"You think I'm getting married, Gramma?" I winked at Mom, but I won't deny that my heart was doing flippety flops. Gramma sometimes saw things in her dreams before they happened. I didn't exactly have a girlfriend at the moment, but there was this new bakery girl with orange hair who'd been spending her breaks watching me decorate cakes. She was just a couple years older than me, well, five years older, 30, but she looked a lot younger. She lived with her ma to help out with her five-year-old Down's Syndrome brother, and she was a little plump, but I liked her freckles and her dimples when she smiled at my horse laugh. Plus, I was tall around her. The top of her head stopped at my shoulder. She didn't wait on customers because she had trouble remembering the right prices and doing the register right. She washed the pans, iced the fry cakes, prepped the strawberries, filled the cupcakes, packed phone orders, and did all the sweeping and wiping.

Her name was Sarah. I like that name a lot.

"Well now," Gramma was saying. "I won't lie and say I dreamed you and your sweetheart will be tying the knot, but I saw your girl in a dream and I've been praying to dream about your wedding."

Gramma looked at Mom. "Didn't I share that with you, Marlene, right after I dreamed about Kenny's girl? My praying for Kenny's wedding?"

"I'm Charlene, Mom," Mom said. "Marlene's your daughter we never see because she can't afford to fly all the way from Seattle to us in Chicago because she's spending all her money climbing mountains and backpacking and skiing, and going -"

"Don't go there, Char," Dad said.

Mom pressed her lips into a long thin line, then sighed. "And you couldn't have seen Kenny's girl in a dream because he doesn't have one."

"Tell me about my girl, Gramma," I said. "I'm all ears." And I wiggled my big ones and let out my famous horse laugh, but my heart was really jumping. Had Gramma seen my future girl in a dream? Gramma's dreams saw the future, though we usually never heard about those dreams until the future had become the past. It was getting hard to know anymore what was genuine, future-telling dreams, and what was just dementia dreams.

Gramma laughed. "Now Kenny. It's not for me to tell you about your girl. It's for you to tell us."

"And Kenny," Andy said. "You better tell your girl, too. Unless she's like one of your Superheroes."

"Huh?" I asked.

Andy laughed. "Imaginary!"

Dad chuckled, Mom tsked, and I felt my face heat up. I forced out my horse laugh. "Good one, Andy. So." I looked right at my little brother, smiling big to put him off guard. "Who'd you say you went fishing with today?"

Dad stopped chuckling and tilted his good ear toward Andy.

"Guys on the team, I expect," Mom said.

"Just met some people at the lagoon," Andy said. He shot me an ugly look.

"People, huh," Dad said.

"And I got a job lined up today," Andy said. His cheeks got red. He was clenching his fork, and I watched his knuckle bones get white.

"Haig," Andy said, and I saw Mom startle. "He told me his dad said I could share shifts with Haig at their 31 Flavors as soon as baseball season ends. Or even sooner, if that's what I want. I'm thinking I might quit the team so I can start working sooner."

Mom gasped. Gramma stopped chewing her spinach. I felt my eyebrows lift up to my hairline. Dad speared a meatball, cut it in half, then again.

"So you were fishing with that Haig today?" Dad asked.

"Did I say that?" Andy threw his fork. It bounced on the floor. Mom shot up, retrieved the fork, and got him a new one from the drawer. Gramma shook her head. I held my breath.

"I have nothing against Haig," Dad said. His voice got quiet, ticking bomb quiet. "But I'd thought you were finally starting to find him a little... different."

I watched Andy's throat shudder as he swallowed.

"God damn it," he whispered.

"Andy!" Mom's eyes watered. Andy's shoulders sagged. I felt goose bumps shiver my arms.

"Look, Dad, Mom," Andy said. "I really want to go away to college. There's only three weeks before the May 1st deadline. So I've decided to work as much as I can to help pay the difference between going away and living at home."

Mom touched his shoulder. "Andy, it would just be for the first two years. Then -"

"I don't want to go to junior college my first two years!" Andy shouted. "My counselor says the freshman and sophomore years away are really good for maturing. And for academics, too."

Mom cleared her throat. She stared at Dad. "Tell him, honey," she said to Dad.

Gramma eyed the spaghetti and garlic bread on my plate, then looked down at her boiled fish and spinach and stuck out her tongue.

"So, if Andy goes away, I get his room, right?" I asked.

Man, I was feeling smart. I'd never spilled the beans to Mom and Dad about what I seen. How I seen Haig and another guy, I don't know who the dude was, walking past the bakery window at four on a Saturday morning. I was working the first shift for a big wedding day, and easing a cake I'd just decorated into the front display window. Haig was holding the dude's hand. But I'd decided that Haig being that way didn't mean Andy was. And those Playboys meant that he wasn't. Unless... there was a thought stuck in my brains I couldn't quite get at.

"Calm down, Andy," Dad said. "We do have some news for you."

Mom's face beamed. Andy froze. His mouth hung open. He sparked his big round eyes at Dad. Baby Bright Eyes. Mom's name for him when he was little. Me, she called me Butcher Boy.

Dad was talking. "Even though it's not the most cost-effective way to finance a college education, your mom and me discussed things on the phone today. We've decided to cover four years at SIU for you. We've decided we can trust you to behave responsibly."

Andy jumped from his chair. He ran around the table. He wrapped his arms around Mom. He patted Gramma on her wooly white head. He shook Dad's hand. Me, he slapped my back. Hard.

"Yes!" he was shouting. "Thank you thank you thank you!"

Dad was smiling. Mom was crying. Gramma was looking at me and winking.

"Four years, now," Dad said. "Not five. Not any graduate school either."

"Four! Four! I'll do it in four! I promise!"

"And honey," Mom said, wiping her eyes. "You don't need to quit the baseball team."

"Absolutely not," Dad said. "You quit the team, we take back our offer. And you don't need to scoop ice cream for minimum wage this summer. I'll see about getting you something to do at the warehouse over the summer, union scale maybe. You can ride in with me. Who knows? Maybe you'll follow your old man into the electrical accessories business!"

"And hey," Mom added. "With a college degree, you could end up being the boss!"

Dad's face was red. His eyes got shiny. Mom was looking at Andy like he'd won the lottery, and no one but me saw Gramma sneak the garlic bread off my plate and stuff her mouth.

"And," Dad said, "We want you to enjoy your summer, too. Hang out with all your buddies. Take some pretty girl to the movies and dinner once in a while."

Then it hit me. The thought puzzling my brains broke loose and smacked me right between my eyes.

Andy had hid the Playboys deliberately for Mom to find when she vacuumed. Where he got such old ones, I couldn't figure. But their age didn't matter. The Playboys was proof that he really was their perfect son, all guy, so he'd be fine being away at college, where the only trouble he might get into would be the kind Dad could complain about in a braggy way to the guys at work, and Mom could grouse in a braggy way to her lady friends.

Having Playboys under your bed was a lot easier than actually having a girlfriend.

"Wow," I said. "Somebody's smarter than I thought." I was talking about my own self figuring out Andy's devious plan, but Andy smiled at me.

"Aw, Ken-man," he said. "College isn't for everyone. You're smart too, in a really special way. I wouldn't be half as good at cake decorating as you are, probably."

"You darn tootin'," Gramma said. She smiled at Andy but then shot me a big wink.

"No probably about it, Bright Eyes," I said, but Andy was too happy to bother getting mad at me.



Mom cried the day Andy left for college. Mom, Gramma, and me stood in our driveway until the U-Haul carrying Dad, Andy, and Andy's crap turned the corner.

Gramma kept waving and squealing, "Byedee bye."

"Well, Marlene," Gramma said. "We won't be seeing Andy again."

"I'm Charlene," Mom said. "Marlene's your daughter who didn't even send you a Mother's Day card this year or call you on your birthday or -"

"He'll be back Thanksgiving," I interrupted, hoping to save Mom from going there again.

"No, no, he won't," Gramma said.

"But over Thanksgiving he'll sleep in the basement, right Mom?" I asked.

Mom wasn't listening to me. She was scowling at Gramma. "Listen, old woman," Mom said. "If you've had one of your stupid dreams about something bad happening to Andy, I don't want to hear about it."

"Remember 9/11?" Gramma asked. "It's not stupid to anticipate things ahead of time."

"What?" Mom shouted. "Andy's going to get attacked by terrorists while he's at college?"

Our neighbor's window that faced our driveway slammed shut.

"Come on, Gramma," I said. I took her hand and pulled her toward the house. "Help me move my stuff into Andy's old room."

"No more dreams!" Mom yelled. Tears streamed down her cheeks. "Keep your stupid dreams to yourself! And I'm Charlene, not Marlene!"

As Gramma followed me down to the basement, she said, "You remember my 9/11 dream, don't you, Kenny?"

"Sure I do," I replied, but Gramma started to tell me about it again anyway.

I'd heard the story a thousand times. She'd had the dream two days before 9/11, though the first time any of us heard about it was on 9/12. Her story was that two days before 9/11, she'd dreamed she was standing in front of the stove. Two sticks of margarine stood upright in a frying pan. They were melting. She kept trying to turn off the heat, but she couldn't find the right control.

"That's why," Gramma said as we carried my clothes from the basement up to Andy's room, "I wasn't shocked like everyone else when we watched the towers burn on TV."

"How come, Gramma, you don't tell us about these dreams until after the thing has already happened?"

"Because, stinker, I sometimes don't know what they really mean until they've come true."

We were shoving my clothes in drawers and hanging stuff in the closet. We'd had the same conversation a million times.

I plopped on the bed and called to Gramma who was hunched over an open dresser drawer rolling my socks into balls.

"So, Gramma, you been dreaming any of me lately?"

Gramma closed the drawer. She sat next to me on the bed and pressed her paper-dry hand into my cheek. "Just your wedding, Kenny," she said. "Nearly every night." Her cloudy blue eyes dripped a couple tears.

"I don't even have a girlfriend, Gramma," I said.

"You're slicing carrots, Kenny," she said. "And sticking them like flowers all over a wedding cake. You're so handsome and happy and tall in a white tux."

"Carrots?" I asked.

She blinked. Her right eye suddenly bulged out, just a bit.

"No thanks," she said. "I brushed my teeth already. Byedee bye." And she left my room.

"Carrots," I whispered. Something warm and ticklish filled my stomach, and my heart jumped. Carrots! Maybe a Playboy Bunny nicknamed Carrots was in my future? And later that night is when I poked my head under the bed and found those three things Andy had left behind: his Willow book, his fishing pole, and best of all, his juicy stack of Playboys.



Gramma was wrong. Andy did come back for Thanksgiving.

We all sat around the table, taking turns offering thanks. When it was Andy's turn, he closed his eyes, trembled, and thanked God for Michael.

"Michael?" Dad asked.

"I met him in my Psych class," Andy said. He opened his eyes and held up his hands. A silver band squeezed his left ring finger.

"It's a commitment ring," he said. His voice shook, but he straightened his shoulders and kept his eyes square on Dad.

Mom and Dad looked shocked. Their faces got as pale as the white turkey meat on my plate. Their eyes pinched the way Gramma's had when she was suffering the shingles.

I was sitting next to Andy. I reached over and patted his leg. "It's cool, dude," I said. "It's cool."

"But those Playboys?" Mom sputtered.

"What Playboys?" Andy asked.

Gramma nodded. "See, Marlene," she said. "I'm not one bit shocked. I dreamed this summer of Andy. He was standing in front of a mic, singing and laughing and waving byedee bye."

I let out my horse laugh. "Mic, Gramma! And Andy's guy is named Mike! I get it!"



Later that night, I lay on my bed looking at the pictures in the Willows book. The pictures of Mole and Rat cozy in Rat's home was making me lonely. Mom was laying in the dark in her and Dad's bedroom having a migraine. Andy was in the basement. Tomorrow, he'd be taking the train back to school. Dad had refused to drive him. I told Andy I would have drove him, but I was scheduled to work.

"Thanks, Ken," he'd said. And then he hugged me.

I haven't been hugged in, well, I don't know.

I closed the Willow book. My eyes felt hot. I thought about the Playboys. I hadn't looked at them for a while. I'd started looking at the girls' faces more than anything else. I'd started feeling lonely and sad when I looked at their faces.

A knock shook my bedroom door. Gramma poked her head in.

"You still have my Playboys?" she asked.

I just looked at her. "What?" I managed to say.

I believe I put them under that bed," she replied. "For Andy." She hobbled in, knelt by the bed, reached under and hauled them out.

"Yours, Gramma?"

She plopped down on the bed next to me.

"They were your grampa's," she said. "He started bringing them home the year you were born. He couldn't handle getting old enough to be a gramps, I guess, so I let it be. And actually, I did enjoy the articles."

She looked at me. "Shut those lips, Kiddo, before a spider falls in."

I clamped my lips. Suddenly, I felt really mad. "So, I don't get to keep them? They were only for Andy? The Great and Wonderful Andy? You put them there, knowing Mom would find them when she vacuumed, and then be reassured that Andy wasn't... uh, different?"

Gramma stood. She clutched the Playboys against her saggy bosom. "You don't need them, Kiddo, the way your brother did. You have nothing to fake for those folks of yours. After all, you have a wedding coming up."

Something fluttered in my throat. "You been saying that, Gramma. But I don't even have a girl. And you got it wrong about us never seeing Andy again."

She shook her head. "No, I wasn't wrong. The Andy we thought we knew has disappeared. We'll never see that Andy again."

Well, that made sense. I was glad it made sense. I wanted to believe Gramma's dreams about me getting married.

"Mic," I said. "You really saw Andy singing into a mic? And me getting married?"

The clouds drifted out of her blue eyes, and for a moment they sparkled like the lagoon on a sunny day. "Last night, Kenny, I had that dream again. You were slicing carrots and sticking them like flowers all over a wedding cake. You were handsome and happy and so tall in a white tux."

"Carrots?" I asked.

"No thanks," she said. "I brushed my teeth already." And she left my room.

"Carrots," I whispered.

The next day at work, I asked Sarah if her and her little brother would like to go fishing at the lagoon with me one of these days before the weather turned too cold.

"About all that's still left in the lagoon is probably some blue gill and catfish," I said. "But my brother left me his fishing pole, and he's always had good luck with it."

She didn't say anything. She was on her break, sitting on a stool, watching me decorate a birthday cake.

"Well," I said. "It's probably too cold for fishing. November and all." My buttercream bag slipped and poked a hole into the cake.

"Cheese and crackers," I muttered.

She laughed, and I felt my face heat up.

But then she stopped laughing.

"Kenny," she said. I set the buttercream bag down next to the damaged cake. I looked at her. Her hair was wisping out of her hair net and looking like thin curls of carrots around her pretty face.

"How about Sunday?" she asked.

All I could do was nod.

"But, I gotta warn you," she said. "My little brother can't sit still for anything very long."

"Derek," I murmured.

"That's right!" A smile dimpled her cheeks. "I like how you listen, Kenny. And how you remember what I say. I know I talk too much. My ma says people tune me out, I talk too much."

"I am a good listener, Sarah," I said. "It's one of my gifts, my mom says. My mom said that's why God gave me big ears. But I don't make the effort to listen to everyone. Just people who talk good."

Sarah's eyes got big and sparkly. "You think I talk good, Kenny?"

I nodded. "Anyway, that's OK about your little brother being a wiggly guy. I can't sit still for nothin' very long either. But I'll bring a good kid's book I got. Wind in the Willows. Maybe he'll like looking at the pictures."

"If we catch anything," she said. "I'll cook it for our dinner after."

22 comments:

  1. Wow, I REALLY enjoyed this. The narrator had flare at times, like “ where the only trouble he might get into would be the kind Dad could complain about in a braggy way to the guys at work, and Mom could grouse in a braggy way to her lady friends.” He is insightful at times like that quote. Marie Anderson kept a very serious topic chill, but not so chill that you don’t feel the tension. Passing from memory or commentary to the main trunk of the story was done just right …never going away from the main trunk too long. Well done!

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  2. Thank you, June, for reading my story and for your wonderful comments!

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  3. Marie, I love how you captured the dynamics of two brothers with disparate abilities, personalities and futures. I felt bad for Kenny, knowing how others’ expectations can cloud one’s potential. But, Kenny was able to overcome that. He is as genuinely sweet person. I thought you captured younger brother Andy exceptionally well, as he became a little more determined to be his own person in spite of his parents. They’re the kind of parents who would engage a “reorientation” specialist to “cure” their gay son. It’s rather remarkable how things have changed, societally, in the past twenty years, although in the States, it appears things may be retrograding again. Gramma was a wily old bird, in spite of her incipient dementia. The most unsympathetic character was “I’m Charlene, not Marlene,” Kenny’s mother, who seemed wholly intolerant and bitter. I like to think that Kenny and Sarah get close and begin a life together, perhaps with Sarah’s family, or even on their own. The story is emblematic that not every happy person has to fit in or be the smartest person in the room. I thoroughly enjoyed your story, Marie; thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Bill, for reading my story. I love your summary of the story and your insights!

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  4. Kenny's "voice" leaps off the page. I can hear him perfectly. Each family member was well drawn out. Well done, Marie. I enjoyed this story a lot.

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    1. Thank you for reading this story, Rozanne. I appreciate your good comments about the characters!

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  5. Pornography under the bed. Boy does that bring back memories of earlier days.

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    1. Thank you for reading the story, Anon! Your comments brought a smile to my face!

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  6. Love the characters, especially the "wooly" headed Grandma. (I at first thought the Playboys were for her own viewing pleasure!) Wonderfully developed story with a very satisfying ending. Dad be damned.

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    1. Thank you for reading the story, Marge H! I chuckled at your comment about Grandma and the Playboys.

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  7. Excellent story, Marie. I loved the Gramma, the one who sees all - in dreams and in life, including not getting her daughter's-in-law name right. The nicknames of the boys are perfect. Here's hoping the brothers keep in touch.

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    1. Thank you for reading the story, Laur. The Gramma was my favorite character. I agree with you about the brothers hopefully staying connected.

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  8. Resembles real life. The two of us found out about homosexuality and suicide in the family and other things that were temporarily hidden for the sake of appearance.
    Seems odd that the family was suspicious about Andy, but were mollified by the appearance of Playhouse mags. Mr. Mirth.

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    1. Thank you for reading my story, Doug, and for posting your good comments.

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  9. This is a phenomenal story. The family dynamics are so authentic, and Kenny is a very touching narrator. Well done!

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    1. Thank you for reading my story, Kevin, and for posting your good comments!

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  10. This is superb writing. Such a compelling family drama of two very different brothers and how the grandma kind of oversees them and is the glue of the family. So, on story alone the plot and drama is excellent. However, your attention to dialogue and detail are what elevates this to such a well-crafted level. In short, I loved this piece and look forward to reading more of your work.

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    1. Thank you for reading this story, Paul. I appreciate your comments, and I especially like your insight into the grandma.

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  11. Gramma for the win!
    I love the character of Gramma - she is complex and intriguing, at once embodying both wisdom and the fragility of old age. Her dementia juxtaposes against moments of profound clarity, especially when she speaks about her dreams and their possible extraordinary predictive powers.
    The reveal at the end (spoiler - that it was Gramma who placed the playboys in the bedroom) is genius.

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    1. Thank you for reading this story, Adam. I especially like your "Gramma for the win" comment!

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  12. what a well-written story! I loved Kenny and the whole family dynamic. The mom's famous spaghetti and meatballs sure sound good :)

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    1. Thank you for reading it, Anon, and for your spaghetti and meatballs comment! :)

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