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Mick cannot stay in the inside room any more, the inner thoughts where she feels separated from everyone and is able to concentrate on music or Mr. Singer or life in general. Since she cannot keep her concentration any more, she feels compelled to keep her mind busy by counting things like the leaves on a bush or the blades of grass in her yard. She feels very afraid but is not sure what she is afraid of. She cannot keep her mind on good things for long. Her obsession with Mr. Singer grows, but she holds back from seeing him except for two times a week. On other days, she often follows him, sometimes skipping school so she can do so. Once she asked him if he had ever been to a far away place where it snowed. He nodded and wrote that he had been to Ontario, Canada. She always feels when they talk that they have been waiting for a long time to tell each other things and that if he told her something it would be true and would make everything right.
She is still sleeping in the living room because Etta is still very sick. She had to quit her job and the family is now eight dollars a week short. Everyone is always worried about money. The rooms in the house were always full of tenants, but the tenants never pay on time. Her father gets the idea that he needs to advertise his watch repair shop. He spends a great deal of time and energy trying to decide on the sign. He fills the sign with so many slogans that it is hard to tell what he is selling. He gets someone to post signs all over the city and even on the country roads. He begins wearing a clean shirt and tie. When nothing happens except that the jewelry store gives him overflow work, he feels despondent. He doesnít go out to look for jobs any more. He stays busy in the house, taking down doors and oiling them, mixing margarine for Portia, or fixing a way to let the water from the icebox drain from the kitchen window.
One day the family is sitting out on the porch in the evening. Hazel comes home from work and joins them. Hazel mentions that there is a job opening at the dime store which will pay ten dollars a week. When Mick asks about the store, Hazel asks her if she is interested in the job. Mick is taken aback, not having thought of beginning work. The family members all begin to object to the idea that Mick begin work at the age of fourteen. Even with the dire straights of the familyís finances, they all agree that Mick should have at least two more years of childhood freedom. Mick is surprised at their concern and likes the fact that they are speaking so kindly about her. She surprises herself when she says she actually wants to take the job. They all object for a while, but then seem relieved that she will take it. When they go inside, Mick begins to feel afraid. She wishes she could back out of the job, but knows she wonít. She is desperate to talk to Mr. Singer about it. When she does, and asks him if he thinks it is a good idea for her to take the job, he nods his head yes.