Learning to Fall: truth. Momma and Dad came home two hours and fifty-three minutes after we got home from pickin' up Uncle Jacob. I know it was two hours and fifty-three minutes 'cause after we got our ice creams, Uncle Jacob told Alex, Jillian and me that he was gonna tell Momma and Dad everything that happened, especially the part about the cops comin' to take him in for questioning. From the minute we got in the door, I kept track of time.
"But why?" Jillian wanted to cover it all up, not tell a soul. Even I knew that wasn't gonna' work 'cause I watch cop shows like Dragnet and Columbo on TV and those guys never give up and they always tell people who they talked to and what they said just so they can see how people react and then write it down on a little pad so they can go back to the station house and figure it all out. Jillian hates Columbo. She says he's stupid and I tell her that's exactly what Mr. Columbo wants her to think and she doesn't get it.
"Your parents trusted me to take care of you and especially your little brother while they were gone." He talked to her like she was a baby, but in a sweet way, the way Momma does sometimes. I stood behind him and crossed my arms the way I'd seen Dad do when he backed Momma up sometimes. Then I uncrossed 'em when it hurt like fire on my scars.
"If they find out from the police that I was picked up, or I lie to them about my broken nose and black eye, well, they'll never let me see the two of you again." Uncle Jacob looked like he was gonna' cry but he didn't.
Jillian did, though. I was gonna', but Alex socked me in the arm, not the broken one, the good arm.
"Truth hurts, don't it, N.B.?" We all laughed and that made it so cryin' wasn't so bad.
Uncle Jacob told Momma and Dad the minute they came in the door. The three of us, we were in the basement pretendin' to play cards. Nobody shouted, but we did hear Momma cry and Dad and Jacob talk more than we ever heard 'em talk before.