Slow-Cooked Sentences

The Little Red-Headed Woman

Rachael Conlin Levy
One of the Little Golden Book‘s covers for this tale.

In a house on a hill lived a little red-headed woman and her family. One day, the little red-headed woman got out of bed, walked into the kitchen and surveyed stacks of dirty dishes, cereal all over the counter and a bursting trash can.

“Arrg!” she yelled. “Who’s going to help me clean the kitchen?”

“Not I,” said the daughter, reading her book.

“Not I,” said the son, getting up from the table and leaving his cereal bowl behind.

“Not I,” said the husband from behind the newspaper.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” sighed the little red-headed woman, and she strapped the baby to her back, filled a sink with soapy water and scrubbed all the dishes, wiped the counter and emptied the trash.

The next day, the little red-headed woman was poked awake by her daughter, who complained she had no clean underwear. The baby was down to the last diaper, her son was wearing a shirt with yesterday’s spaghetti dinner on it and her husband scowled because his slacks weren’t ironed.

The little red-headed woman stumbled out of bed and went to the washing machine.

“Who’s going to help me do the laundry?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the daughter, discovering a pair of clean underwear in the back of her drawer.

“Not I,” said the son, turning his shirt inside out.

“Not I,” said the husband, pulling on his jeans.

“Then I will,” sighed the little red-headed woman, and she put the dirty diapers in the washing machine. But when she began folding the clean clothes on the couch the baby knocked them over so she gave up.

The next day the beep and rumble of the garbage truck woke the little red-headed woman, who rushed outside in her pajamas to pull the can to the curb. She glanced over at the lawn dotted with buttery dandelions, and she asked, “Who’s going to help me weed the lawn?”

“Not I,” said the son, strapping on his bike helmet and pedaling away.

“Not I,” said the daughter, reading her book.

“Not I,” said the husband, buttering a piece of toast.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” sighed the little red-headed woman, and she picked the dandelions, braided them into a crown and placed them on the baby’s head. Then she mowed the lawn.

That evening, the little red-headed woman opened the refrigerator and found one egg, some slimy beets and a pound of hamburger just starting to thaw.

“Who’s going to help me make dinner?” she asked.

No one answered. So instead, she mixed up a box of brownies. Then she filled the bathtub with hot water, squirted in some dish soap and took the brownies out of the oven. The warm, chocolate smell filled the house and wafted out the window.

The son sniffed, dropped his soccer ball and ran into the kitchen. The daughter sniffed and walked into the kitchen while reading her book. The husband sniffed, turned off the T.V. and walked into the kitchen, just as the little red-headed woman cut a large brownie out of the center of the pan and poured a glass of red wine.

“Can I have some?” asked the son.

“Can I have some?” asked the daughter.

“Can I have some?” asked the husband.

“I’ve cleaned the kitchen, I’ve washed the laundry and I’ve mowed the lawn,” said the little red-headed woman. “And now I’m going to take a bath, all by myself.”

Then she sank into the hot water and clouds of bubbles, ate the brownie and drank the wine. And when she was done, she slipped inside a bubble and floated away.

This story is dedicated to my son Samuel William, one hard-working little chick and fellow lover of Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate Brownies. Together, we can polish off an entire pan.

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