, I put Mae Mobley in her playpen, drag the garbage bin out to the street cause the truck’s coming by today. At the top a the driveway, Miss Hilly and her crazy mama near bout back over me in they car, then yell out all friendly how sorry they is. I walk in the house, glad I ain’t got two new broken legs.
When I go in the kitchen, Miss Skeeter’s in there. She leaning against the counter, got a serious look on her face, even more serious than usual. “Hey, Miss Skeeter. I get you something?”
She glance out at the drive where Miss Leefolt’s talking to Miss Hilly through her car window. “No, I’m just . . . waiting.”
I dry a tray with a towel. When I sneak a look over, she’s still got her worried eyes on that window. She don’t look like other ladies, being she so tall. She got real high cheekbones. Blue eyes that turn down, giving her a shy way about her. It’s quiet, except for the little radio on the counter, playing the gospel station. I wish she’d go on out a here.
“Is that Preacher Green’s sermon you’re playing on the radio?” she ask.
“Yes ma’am, it is.”
Miss Skeeter kind a smile. “That reminds me so much of my maid growing up.”
“Oh I knew Constantine,” I say.
Miss Skeeter move her eyes from the window to me. “She raised me, did you know that?”
I nod, wishing I hadn’t said nothing. I know too much about that situation.
“I’ve been trying to get an address for her family in Chicago,” she say, “but nobody can tell me anything.”
“I don’t have it either, ma’am.”
Miss Skeeter move her eyes back to the window, on Miss Hilly’s Buick. She shake her head, just a little. “Aibileen, that talk in there . . . Hilly’s talk, I mean . . .”
I pick up a coffee cup, start drying it real good with my cloth.
“Do you ever wish you could... change things?” she asks.
And I can’t help myself. I look at her head on. Cause that’s one a the stupidest questions I ever heard. She got a confused, disgusted look on her face, like she done salted her coffee instead a sugared it.
I turn back to my washing, so she don’t see me rolling my eyes. “Oh no, ma’am, everthing’s fine.”
“But that talk in there, about the bathroom—” and smack on that word, Miss Leefolt walk in the kitchen.
“Oh, there you are, Skeeter.” She look at us both kind a funny. “I’m sorry, did I . . . interrupt something?” We both stand there, wondering what she might a heard.
“I have to run,” Miss Skeeter says. “See you tomorrow, Elizabeth.” She open the back door, say, “Thanks, Aibileen, for lunch,” and she gone.
I go in the dining room, start clearing the bridge table. And just like I knew she would, Miss Leefolt come in behind me wearing her upset smile. Her neck’s sticking out like she fixing to ask me something. She don’t like me talking to her friends when she ain’t around, never has. Always wanting to know what we saying. I go right on past her into the kitchen. I put Baby Girl in her high chair and start cleaning the oven.
Miss Leefolt follow me in there, eyeball a bucket a Crisco, put it down. Baby Girl hold her arms out for her mama to pick her up, but Miss Leefolt open a cabinet, act like she don’t see. Then she slam it close, open another one. Finally she just stand there. I’m down on my hands and knees. Pretty soon my head’s so far in that oven I look like I’m trying to gas myself.
“You and Miss Skeeter looked like you were talking awful serious about something.”
“No ma’am, she just... asking do I want some old clothes,” I say and it sound like I’m down in a well-hole. Grease already working itself up my arms. Smell like a underarm in here. Don’t take no time fore sweat’s running down my nose and ever time I scratch at it, I get a plug a crud on my face. Got to be the worst place in the world, inside a oven. You in here, you either cleaning or you getting cooked. Tonight I just know I’m on have that dream I’m stuck inside and the gas gets turned on. But I keep my head in that awful place cause I’d rather be anywhere sides answering Miss Leefolt’s questions about what Miss Skeeter was trying to say to me. Asking do I want to change things.
After while, Miss Leefolt huff and go out to the carport. I figure she looking at where she gone build me my new colored bathroom.