E. A. Blevins

Punching Stuff

by E. A. Blevins

Lucy sat on the stairs to the basement at her house, which was tons smaller than the school’s basement, and idly gripped the railing over her head with both hands.  Her mom scrubbed the dimly-lit walls below with a bucket and a mop, galoshes splashing in less than an inch of standing water as a fan blew air up the stairs.

Lucy pulled on the railing, lifting herself from the step and then lowering herself back down.  The fan stirred her bangs as she asked, “Are my gloves done yet?”

Her mom turned, mouth and nose covered by a dust mask, and planted the mop in her bucket. “Lucy!  You know you can’t be down here until the mold is gone.  Go back up.”

Lucy climbed four stairs before turning back around. “But are they done yet?”


Lucy trudged up into the kitchen and out the back door where her boxing gloves hung from a laundry line.  She stared morosely up at them.  She couldn’t reach that high, and her dad had taken the trash can into the garage when he saw her trying to climb it to reach.

“You’re lucky they’re letting you keep those ratty things.”  Lucy’s big sister, Hannah, stood in the doorway with a bright pink cast on one of her folded arms. “Mom had to soak them in bleach water to get the germs out.  You better hope mildew doesn’t set in, either, or you’ll have to throw them away.”

“No I won’t,” grumbled Lucy.

Hannah snorted and used her know-it-all big sister voice to say, “Yes you will.  Mom will make you.”

Lucy glared at her sister, who only shook her head and went back inside.

It took all day and all night for her gloves to dry.  She got put in time out three times and sent to bed early, where she swore she’d never go to sleep again.

When she woke up, she rushed down to breakfast where her mom made her eat a bowl of cereal before they went and checked on the gloves.

“Okay,” said her mom, unhooking them from the line.

Lucy raised her hands and hopped from foot to foot, whining a little when her mom paused to sniff inside them and slip a hand inside each, but no purple light started to glow around them.  Lucy wondered if the bleach water had broken them.

With a smile, her mom passed them to Lucy. “Don’t hit your sister with them.”

Lucy hugged them to her chest with a shriek of delight and ran all the way to her room.

She stuck her hands in them and it took a few seconds to start, but they glowed.  Lucy jumped up and down and decided to test them out on her bed.

One punch and it broke in half.  Lucy’s mouth dropped open in delight, but then she heard “Oh.  My.  Gosh.  What did you do?”

Lucy whirled, hid her hands behind her back, and glared at her sister. “Don’t be a tattletale, Hannah.”

With an amused “You are in so much trouble” over her shoulder, Hannah hurried off.

Lucy chased her.  The gloves made holding the stair rail hard, so she pried them off and grabbed it.  By the time she got downstairs, both of her parents were headed her way.  They marched upstairs past her, even though Lucy assured them nothing was wrong.

They didn’t have to go fully into her room to see the bed; they stared at it from the doorway.

“What on earth?” said her dad.

Her mom leveled her best mom look on Lucy. “Those things clearly make you too excited.”  She held a hand out and gestured for the gloves.

“No no no no no no nooooo!” Lucy wailed, squeezing them against her chest.

“That’s one,” said her mom, holding up a single finger.

Lucy stomped a foot. “No!”

“That’s two,” said her dad.

Her mom waited patiently as Lucy threw the gloves on the floor and yelled, “I hate you!  I hate you both!  You’re the meanest parents ever!”

“That’s three,” said her dad. “Time out.”

“I’m timing myself out,” she yelled as she stormed into her room and slammed the door.  Through the wood, she heard her dad call, “That’s five more minutes for the temper.”

Lucy went to her broken bed, grabbed up her pillow, and screamed into it.  Then she went to the door and yelled as loud as she could, “AND HANNAH IS A TATTLETALE DOO-DOO FACE!”

“Another five,” came her mom’s even voice, “for name-calling.”

Lucy sank against the door for a good sulk and heard her parents talking in low voices.

“I’ll put them in our closet,” said her mom. “She can have them back in a few days.”

“Just for outside play, maybe?”

“That’s a good idea.  We can store them with her bike.”

The voices started to move away, but her dad’s curious tone came through clearly. “How on earth did she break her bed like that?”

“Jumping on it, I guess.”

“I didn’t think she did that anymore.”  A pause, then a low laugh. “Okay, okay.  Don’t give me that look.  I get it, she’s a kid.”

“So many people said girls were easier,” sighed her mom.

The voices had begun to fade, so Lucy pressed her ear against the door to listen hard.  She could only just hear her dad, who sounded amused when he replied, “Our Lucy has never been a normal girl.”

Her mom’s response was interrupted by a sudden too-loud series of knocks on Lucy’s bedroom door, startling her into jerking her ear away.

“I HATE YOU, HANNAH,” she yelled while rubbing her ear.

Her sister’s laughter was the only reply.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Lucy's dad move the trash can into the garage?
  2. How old do you think Lucy's sister, Hannah, is?
  3. What kind of relationship do Lucy and Hannah have? What are some clues that support your opinion?
  4. Why does Lucy's mom tell her not to hit her sister with the gloves?
  5. Why does Lucy test the gloves on her bed?
  6. Does Lucy's bed breaking with one punch imply that the gloves are normal or magical? What does this suggest about the kind of world Lucy lives in?
  7. Do you think Lucy's parents were right or wrong to punish her? Why or why not?
  8. Why does Hannah knock loudly on Lucy's door at the end?
  9. Why does Lucy's dad say Lucy is not a normal girl?
  10. What does a "normal girl" look like to you?
  11. What's something about you that is normal?
  12. What's something about you that is not normal?


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