Ever’ summer me an’ Bobby would get in all sorts a trouble. It a start out the same; first day of summer break, Bobby would be at the kitchen door, bangin’ on the screen. “Hey Mz. Peterson. Can Billy come out?” An’ before Mama could call me I’d be hittin’ the door an’ off the porch steps. Not long after, Bobby be overtakin’ me. I was always the fastest off the mark, but nobody could beat Bobby in the stretch. Once he got his legs under him, there was no stoppin’ him.
Anyways, we’d always make a beeline through the hay fields; high and golden with the grass and pock marked with daisies. In June, our trail was barely noticeable, but by August, we’d run a well worn path through the pasture. The trail led to only one place; ole man Higgins’ pond.
There’s an old tire swing on one of the oaks. Bobby would get to it first, already stripped of his overalls, flying over the pond whooping and hollering then cannonballin’ into the cold water. This year I kept all my underclothes on; couldn’t tell ya why, just felt bashful or somethin’. But I followed suit, giving my best Injun yell then splashing down into the crisp pond water.
As soon as I broke the surface and caught a big gulp of air, Bobby was right there ready for the game of who could splash who the most, then who could dunk the other. It all started out as usual; waves of water flying over both our heads. But when we commenced to dunking each other, Bobby at first seemed to wrestle harder than befor’. I really had to struggle to get back above water. Then he just treaded water, starin’ at me. I got embarrassed and headed for shore. He stayed in the water for a few more minutes then came out an’ sat next to me. Neither of us said anything, but somethin’ had sure changed between us.
The bell rang from off my kitchen porch, an’ Mama’s clear singsong reached us all the way cross the fields:
“Willamena Mae . . . Robert Charles . . . lunchtime.”
I bolted for my overalls, and with my back turned, I quickly put them on. When I looked back to see if Bobby was ready he was also turned away from me. It was the quietest trip back to the house ever. We didn’t tussle or chase or try to flush out rabbits. That was the last summer me an’ Bobby hung out.
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Another one just under the wire. While imagining this scene, I was reminded of many great young female characters: John Steinbeck’s Ruthie Joad, William Faulkner’s Caddy Compson, Ray Bradbury’s Clarisse, and Harper Lee’s Scout Finch. Thanks as always to Jeremy and his new weekly Challenge.