A hot day in Los Angeles
"Whatever for, Child?" A voice asked from somewhere deep in the dark house.
"The man on the radio said it was hot enough to fry an egg and I want to try it." Jemma sat on the milk crate next to the screen door. There was no answer. She couldn't see into the house. On hot days like this her Ma kept every drape closed up tight. Even pinned closed in some cases. She'd asked her Ma once why she did it.
"I open everything up to cool the house down in the morning and then close it up to keep it as cool as I can all day." She'd shooed Jemma out the door, then shut it behind her.
The screen door squealed open on its worn out spring. Ma stood there with a brown egg in her hand. "Come on. We're gonna see if that weather man was right."
Jemma jumped up to follow her.
She marched down the walk to the smooth sidewalk in front of the house. Jemma smiled remembering the city men had been there last fall and put a new one along the whole block.
Ma tucked her flowered dress under her knees. "I don't want to get any egg splatterin's on me." She wiped the sweat from her forehead.
"Do you really think it’s as hot as a fryin' pan on this sidewalk?” Jemma wore her rubber thongs so the heat didn't bother her feet. She squatted beside her mother and touched the smooth cement. "It's hot alright."
"Whacha doin' Jemma?" Ben stopped his bike next to the curb. He talked funny and not just because he had a lollipop in his mouth. He talked funny all the time. Ma said he had a hairlip. Jemma had looked at the scar on his lip and didn't see no hair on it. Ma was wrong. she thought.
"Benjamin, we're going to see if it’s hot enough to fry an egg on this here cement." Ma motioned for him to join them. He dropped the bike on the curb and leaped to the grass on the opposite side of the sidewalk and knelt down across from Jemma and Ma.
"You're going to cook an egg on the sidewalk?" His eyes grew as round as an egg with all the white showing. Jemma covered her mouth to keep the laugh that burst out from being too loud.
Ma raised the egg up in the air and swished it in a circle. Ben watched her every move, Jemma just watched Ben. She turned and tapped it on the fence piece that connected the two posts. Then with a flourish she cracked it open on the sidewalk.
All three leaned over it. Ma held her hand out and pressed the children back, “Don’t make any shade for it. We want it to cook.”
Nothing happened at first. As they watched, the clear part of the egg began to turn white.
“I’ll be. I didn’t believe it,” Ma whispered.
“The man said it was gonna be hot today,” Jemma chimed in.
A few minutes went by as they watched the egg cook. “Wait here.” Ma got up and went back in the house.
“Is she going to get plates for us to eat it? I don’t think my mother would want me eating anything off the sidewalk.” Ben added louder in case Ma could hear.
“Stupid, we aren’t going to eat it. We’re having an ‘esperiment. Its science, like we did in school last year.” Jemma informed him in an authoritative voice.
“Oh yeah.” Ben pulled some of the weeds next to him in the brown grass.
“Here we are. How’s our egg doing? It’s been fifteen minutes. Do you think it’s done yet?” Ma set a tray next on the sidewalk and handed each of the children Koolaid in Mason jars.
“Thank you Ma’am.” Ben piped up.
“Oh yeah. Thanks Ma.” The drink colored their lips and tongues red. They laughed at each other, sticking out their tongues to show the color.
“I think it’s about done now.” Ma took a spatula off the tray and a paper plate. She slid the flat part under the edges of the egg to lift it it.
“It didn't stick and I didn't have to use any butter.” Then she tapped the yolk of the egg lightly, it cracked and ran all over the white and on to the sidewalk. “Well, that wasn’t too smart of me.” she tsked.
Jemma heard a noise behind her. She immediately recognized and yelled, “Help!” but Duke pushed her over and in a second he’d gobbled up the egg and was licking the yolk off the sidewalk.
“Whacha doin’?” Greg asked as he tried to pull Duke’s leash and Duke from his treat.
“Your dog just ate our science 'esperiment.” Jemma jumped up and thrust her balled fists at her waist. “How come you can’t keep your dog under control?” She repeated what she'd heard her mother say in the same tone.
“I’m sorry. Duke, come here!” He tugged harder on the leash. When Duke had finished licking all the yolk he laid next to Greg on the dry grass.
“Now Jemma, don’t get all bent out of shape. I was going to throw it away. Now Duke gets a treat and I don’t have to hose the sidewalk down to clean it.” She smiled at the kids and all Jemma's anger blew away on the wind, if there had been any wind.
“Greg, we fried an egg on the side walk.” Ben bounced on his toes.
Greg frowned at the three and looked at the rapidly disappearing spot where Duke had eaten the evidence. “You can’t fry an egg on the sidewalk.”
“I guess you’ll have to take our word for it. We did it and your dog ate it.” Ma's dress swished as she walked back to the house.
“Did not.” Greg whispered.
“Did so.” Both Ben and Jemma said at the same time.