I am PROUD to announce that I have reached the 25,000 word-mark.. that means that I am half-way there! I want to thank you all for your moral support and feedback. It means a lot.
Today’s entry: more about our stay in South Carolina.
“Hey you guys, check this out!”
A little boy came running through Jacob and Rachel’s yard to where all of us were sitting, making plans for the day that included a carton of sidewalk chalk, a possible trip to the community pool if we could find a parent willing to chaperone and a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie I had rented from the library on VHS (just in case we got bored).
We all looked up to see what the boy wanted to show us. I can’t remember his name, but he was a kid who lived across the street and who we all played with sometimes. But his parents were sort of weird. Too quiet.
“That is so cool!” Jacob gushed, rushing over to handle the object. It was an etch-a-sketch. A red one. With a caterpillar sticker on it. It looked just like the one I had.
“Where did you get that?” I asked.
“I just found it in the dumpster!” The little boy blushed. “I mean, it was lying on the ground beside it. But anyways it looks like there’s tons of other stuff out there, too! You guys should come look with me!”
Everyone thought it was a great idea so we all went running over to the big dumpster he had been talking about it. Once we got there, things got even more confusing for me. Inside of the dumpster and all around it were items that looked extremely familiar: a barbie with one of its arms missing and most of its blonde hair cut off; a yellow container of blue play-doh; a stuffed animal with one eye missing; a Rugrats coloring book.
The kids were going nuts, grabbing items off of the ground and taking turns climbing into the dumpster to retrieve items from inside of it.
“WAIT A MINUTE EVERYBODY!” I held my hands up and everyone froze. “This isn’t right. All of this stuff is my stuff! I don’t know what it’s doing out here!” I was holding a plastic Zebra in my hand that a lady had given me when mom and dad has made us go visit a church last week. I had memorized a Bible verse during the class and, after reciting it out loud almost perfectly, she let me choose any plastic creature I wanted from a special basket she kept in the closet.
“I know this is mine,” I muttered, storming to my house. The train of children followed me, stopping at the door while I walked in to find an adult.
”Grammy? Mom? DAD?”
”Yoohoo, I’m in here,” Grammy called from the bedroom. “Mom is at the store and dad’s still at work,” she smiled as I walked in.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I cried, seeing boxes and trash bags with my things in them all across the floor. She was holding a paddleball in her hand right as I walked in, looking at it questioningly.
“Ohhh I’m just going through a few things, girly whirly. This room is so cluttered, and mama says you don’t use half of the stuff in here. So,” she continued, objectively putting the paddleball into a box and stuffing an old squirt gun into a trash bag,”I’m going through everything in here and putting the important things that I think you’ll use into boxes and throwing the rest away.” She noticed the plastic Zebra I had gripped in my hand. The frown on my face.
”Oh come on Rosebud, what are you going to do with that?”
I marched outside and me and my band of friends spent the next few hours walking from the house to the dumpster, retrieving my things and replacing them in my room.
Mom got home from the store soon after the incident, carrying bags of groceries in her hands and watching our procession heading towards the house. “What on earth is going on?” She asked Grammy.
“I tried, dollbabe,” Grammy sighed.
Sometime in the next few weeks, Jacob and Rachel complained about a few family members who were coming to visit. “My aunt Sarah,” Jacob grumbled. “She’ll be getting here sometime this afternoon.”
”What’s wrong with her?” I asked, looking from brother to sister.
“Well there’s nothing wrong with her,” Rachel said matter of factly. She was a year and a half older than Jacob but acted like the age difference was more like ten years.
“It’s her daughter. Our cousin. Emily. She smells!”
She made a face and Jacob nodded his head in agreement.
”She smells awful,” he said solemnly.
I frowned. “Does she ever take a bath?”
“Who knows!” Rachel cried. “All I know is I’m not saying a word to her while she’s here. I’m not even going near her.”
Sure enough, just as we were in the middle of a game of hopscotch in their driveway, an old, black and red GMC Blazer pulled in. I saw a little girl peering through one of the tinted windows. I smiled.
Jacob and Rachel ran into the house to get their parents and I stood in the driveway waiting for them, looking a little awkward with my hands shoved into the denim pockets of my shorts. The driver’s door opened and a man hopped out, smiling and extending his hand.
”Hey there! My name is John. Are you a friend of Jacob and Rebekkah’s?”
I shook his handed and nodded. “Yep. I’ve known Jacob and Rachel ever since I moved here.”
“Rachel,” he muttered to himself. “Right. Well cool! Are they inside now?” he asked, even though I’m sure he must have seen them running into the house when they pulled up. It was a form of small talk, I guess, or an understood permission for him to leave our awkward conversation.
I nodded again, smiling as he grabbed his wife’s hand and they walked towards the house. I looked back at the window and saw that the little girl hadn’t moved. She was still sitting in the backseat, and I think that she was staring at me.
I went home for a while; to eat lunch, and because my mom had always said that it wasn’t polite to be over at someone’s house when they had company. But in just a little over an hour’s time, Jacob and Rachel were knocking on my front door, asking if I wanted to come hang out again.
“Does your mom mind?” I asked.
“No!” They both said in unison. “She doesn’t care.”
We spent a portion of the afternoon standing outside by the big tree in my yard, thankful for the shade it afforded, chit chatting, playing Ispy, and talking about school.
“Are you nervous to start?” Rachel asked.
“Not really,” I shrugged. “I think it’ll be kinda neat. I’ll get to meet other kids and make friends.”
Rachel nodded. “I think you’ll like it.”
We moved our trio back over to their house and had resumed the game of hopscotch in the driveway when it happened.
“Ewwww!” The front door to the house had opened and Rachel was looking inside.
“She’s naked!” Rachel gasped.
Rachel and Jacob ran into the back and I quickly followed.
“What on earth are you talking about?” I had been too nervous to look inside the door myself.
“Emily was just standing by the front door, naked,” Rachel grimaced. I frowned. Why would she be naked? I thought to myself. It was very confusing.
Emily couldn’t have been more than three old. Looking back on it now, she was probably in the middle of a diaper change or something normal like that.
We ventured back to the front of the yard after a few minutes in recovery and found Emily’s parents outside, looking for us.
”There you guys are! We were hoping you could include Emily in whatever you guys are doing today.” I looked over towards the door and saw Emily’s face poking out from behind it. I’m assuming she must have been clothed by now.
“She’s a little shy,” he whispered, looking at me in an explaining sort of way.
“Of course she can play with us!” I piped up.
Rachel and Jacob looked over at me, frowning. I ignored it. “We were actually thinking about having a picnic.”
The dad went into the house and prodded Emily outside. She had her thumb in her mouth and was wearing a rainbow shirt (and girl’s denim shorts). Her hair was a dirty blonde color and she didn’t appear to be wearing shoes. It was the first time I had actually gotten to look at the girl.
“This is your fault,” Rachel hissed at me. “I’m not playing with her,” and she stormed off. Jacob, who had been standing beside me, looked over and shrugged. Then he walked away, too.
Then it was just me and Emily.
It turned out to be a great afternoon. While Rachel and Jacob sulked and stormed around their yard, I invited Emily over to my house for a picnic. She followed along behind me quietly as we trudged across three neighbor’s yards and while I talked about various things: what we would be eating during our picnic, how nice the weather was outside, and how I really liked her rainbow shirt. I left her sitting outside while I ran into the house and gathered a few things: a loaf of bread, a butterknife, a tub of peanut butter and jar of jelly, two apples, a box of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies and two pouches of Juicy Juice; white grape, of course. I put everything into a plastic Publix bag to make it easier to carry and grabbed a sheet from the bedroom on my way out.
Once outside, I placed the sheet under the tree and we began making sandwiches. Emily talked a little, but not much. I smiled and brought out my Notre Dame magic set after we had finished eating. She enjoyed watching my tricks and they really seemed to fascinate her; I think she actually thought that I knew magic. I had to admit that she did smell terrible, but the stench wasn’t so overpowering when you focused on her eating and laughing and smiling.