Prompt: A story involving your hometown. Make us believe we’ve been there.
Word Count: 2000 words
Deadline: Thursday, August 11, 2011, 6:30 EST
HOMESoft summer breeze, Caressing her neck Like a mother’s kiss. Warm rays of golden sunset, Slip beneath the dusky horizon. Honeysuckle perfume, Riding on the wind. Fireflies dance in their flickering lights. Nature’s beauty and splendor, Thrilling her heart with graceful ease.
I was born in the Almada District, in Lisboa, Portugal… having arrived early and unexpectedly while my parents were visiting Papa’s relatives. The first three months of my life were spent in Portugal, though I have no memory of that time. I do have many wonderful memories of our home in Saint Louis, Missouri. I would share some of those memories with you here.
As it has for the last several mornings, the sound of a mockingbird wakes me from another restful summer night. I open my eyes and lie still for a few moments, listening to her beautiful song.
The morning sunlight filters through the dark-green leaves of the Kentucky coffeetree outside my bedroom window, and I smile at a memory. Papa once told me that when I was older, he would make for me, coffee from this tree.
I fold back the bedcovers and lean over the edge of the top bunk, looking down at my best friend Talia, sleeping peacefully below me. I whisper to her…
“Tali… are you awake?” Silence. A little louder…
“Tali…” Still nothing. I lean over the top rail a little more…
“Tali… Mama’s making blueberry waffles!” Still nothing…
I climb down the ladder and step around to the side of the bunk-bed. I lean over and reach my hand out to touch her shoulder… just then Talia opens her eyes and grabs me.
“AAAHHHHH!!!” I shriek, jerking back and falling to the floor. Talia sits up in bed and looks down at me… laughing!
“Owwee!” I exclaim, rubbing my bottom. This makes Talia laugh even harder. I look up at her and feel such a rush of love for my “bestest friend in the whole world!” In the next moment we are both laughing.
The bedroom door opens and Mama walks in to the room.
“Breakfast in five minutes, girls.”
“Blueberry waffles, Mama?” I look up at her, my dark, liquid eyes hopeful. Mama nods her head. Tali and I rush over and hug Mama.
“I love you, Mama!”
“I love you too babies… don’t forget to brush your teeth.”
Looking like twins in our matching Hello Kitty pajamas, Tali and I race down the hall to the bathroom… bare feet making little slapping sounds on the cool hardwood floor; our squeals of laughter echoing through the house.
The noonday sun beats down from a clear, blue August sky, glistening off of our small bodies and warming the liberally applied SPF 60 sun block. A faint scent of chlorine rising up from the pool is almost lost in the other smells of summer. The cocoa-buttery smell of Banana Boat mingles with the scents of honeysuckle and fresh-cut grass. The smoky, slightly-charred tang of barbeque wafts across the street from our neighbors. I can almost hear the chicken sizzling on the grill. It smells like Paradise!
I look over at my best friend, lying next to me poolside. Sunlight glances off the green-blue surface of the pool, casting its rays on her sunglasses. Tali smiles back. We are both wearing our ‘movie star’ sunglasses… big, dark ‘Jackie O’ style glasses. They cost us two weeks allowance at a vintage clothing shop over in Antique Row.
Talia and I have known each other almost since birth, and have been inseparable ever since. She is only two weeks older than me… we are both Virgos. Mama says this means ‘double trouble’ for her! Haha! Mama is funny, yes?
This weekend will be our last sleep-over for a long time. Talia’s father is over-seeing the start up of a new factory in St Petersburg, so her family is moving to Russia for a year. I am sad that Tali will be gone for so long, and that she won’t be here next month for my eighth birthday party, but at the same time; I am very excited for my friend. And, Mama says that we can ‘internet’… that means we can talk to each other and send pictures on the computer!
“More lemonade, girls?”
“Oh… thank you, dahling… we’d love some!” Tali and I burst into a fit of giggles.
“Someone took their ‘silly pills’ today!” Mama says
“It was the blueberry waffles, Auntie Lily!” Talia replies, still giggling.
“I see… perhaps tomorrow then, we shall have oatmeal for breakfast.” Mama teases.
“Ewww!!” We both chorus. Mama laughs…
“Veronica, honey… ten more minutes and then you girls need to come in. I don’t want you getting sunburned.”
“Yes, Mama… we will.”
A few minutes pass in silence.
“Cassie told me that the boob fairy comes on your eighth birthday.” The ‘boob fairy’ has been the subject of many conversations between me and Talia ever since Martha started sprouting little bumps on her chest last year. Mama says ‘nice little girls’ do not say ‘boobs’ and we should not be so impatient to grow up. Yes, Mama.
I look down at my flat little chest. There is just the barest hint of a bump under the turquoise fabric of my swimsuit. I look up at Talia. She smiles and looks over to the patio table, where a large bowl of oranges sits in the center. Tali looks back at me and starts to giggle.
Five minutes later, the bowl is lighter by four oranges and Talia and I are out in front of my house, strutting up and down the sidewalk… the tops of our swimsuits fairly bursting with fruit. My one-piece suit holds two oranges nice and snug, but Talia has to hold her ‘boobs’ in the smaller top of her two-piece suit.
We are still sashaying up and down the sidewalk, holding up our ‘boobs” and wiggling our little butts, when a loud shriek pierces the air. Looking back, we see Mama marching down the front walk. Uh-oh!
I look at Tali and we both take off up the sidewalk, the oranges spilling out of our swimsuits and bouncing all over the warm concrete. Run, Tali… run!
After the evening meal, our little “unladylike behavior” of the afternoon forgiven, Talia and I ride our bikes down to the end of the street, to the Frohmeyer’s. Their golden retriever had a litter of puppies several weeks ago and Tommy, our classmate, invited us to come and see the new puppies… six little bouncing balls of fur… they are so cute! I have been ‘working’ on Mama for the past few weeks, and I think she is close to relenting. I want a puppy so bad!
As the sun sinks low in the western sky, Tali and I race home. We don’t want to miss the ‘show’.
Mama’s backyard garden is her pride and joy… a small pond filled with French water-lilies, surrounded by a rainbow of flowering plants… trellised honeysuckle, oxeye sunflowers, pink and blue azaleas, jasmine, and my favorite… Veronica, a tall purple-blue perennial. And, one other thing… fireflies!
There are eighteen homes on Alpena Drive. Built in the late 60’s, the neighborhood is a mix of single level ranch and split levels; there is one two-story house… our home. Each home is unique in its own way, sharing only a common theme of brick and white lap siding. The lawns are all well-kept and there is a sprinkling of small fruit trees curb-side in front of a few of the houses. The curbs are low, curving shapes… perfect for riding one’s bike over. It is a clean, tidy neighborhood… quiet and peaceful.
There are a few evergreens here and there, but most of the trees are oak, red maple, coffeetree, sycamore, and dogwood. In the fall, the trees are a blaze of colors… shades of yellows, orange, reds and browns. As the temperatures drop, the smell of wood smoke hangs in the air, mingling with the aroma of autumn leaves. The crackle and rustle of the dry leaves underfoot is music to my ears on our evening walks. To this day, autumn is still my favorite time of year.
Alpena is a short street… stretching from Patrina Drive and ending in a cul-de-sac, just past Little Drive. Alpena Drive was more than just a 526 foot stretch of segmented concrete with houses and trees on each side… a thirty-one second drive by car, or a three minute walk… as described by Google. It was my world for sixteen and a half years. It wasn’t a perfect world, and it wasn’t always a happy world, but it was always one thing…
~~finis~~Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw Silverdale, Washington 10 August 2011