Hi. My name’s Juice. I live with my ma and pa and four sisters in the North Carolina hills. I want to tell you about what happened to my family the year I was kept back in third grade. I was supposed to be going to school, but mostly I didn’t. School was pure torture for me, especially reading. I’m just plain stupid about reading. All those letters and numbers keep moving around and not making sense.

That’s why I was home the day Pa showed me the letter. It looked important and scary, and when my big sister Markey read it to us, it was even more scary. You see, Pa hadn’t been able to find work for a long time, and so he hadn’t been able to pay the taxes on our house. And now, the letter said, if we didn’t figure out how to do it, and do it soon, our house would be gone.

But sometimes when things get their worst, you’ve just got to look harder for a way to get around them. So that’s what Pa and I did a few days later, when we went down to the junkyard, and saw the big old aluminum shed that had been left there. I may not be smart at reading, but there’re other ways to be smart, and that day I was. I’d seen that shed hundreds of times, but that day it looked different. “Pa,” I said, “you can be a machinist. People would pay you to make things out of metal for them. Look at that shed. All of Grandpa’s machines would fit in there, every last one of them.”

And that’s just what happened. We took that old aluminum building apart, moved it back to our house, and put all the equipment from Grandpa’s machine shop in it, the lathes and grinders, the torches and tanks, the awls and brakes. Pa knew how to use them, and I could help him.

We may not be smart at reading, but we're real smart with our hands. Ain’t no way we were gonna let the bank take our house from us! No need to tell Ma about the letter, with her being pregnant again. Pa and I, we can handle this, and no one need ever know.