Unrequited Hope

December 21, 2009
She stood up from her small wooden sewing table and crossed the empty floor to the blue-framed window. It took her a moment to focus her eyes on the diverse group of boys playing at roughhousing each other on the street. Their game resembled leap-frog, but it also resembled dominos. She watched for several minutes, not moving as the boys in jeans and tight tee-shirts fell flat on their fronts one after the other. She saw another boy their age standing on the opposite sidewalk holding a glistening skate board. He seemed not to blink as the others cast small looks at him.

She stared at the lone boy and sighed, then tapped on the glass of the window to call the attention of the roughhousers. The one nearest looked up at her. It was her great-nephew who bore all the looks of his mother, her sister, with whom she shared no genetics at all. A long face and dark features were what she had missed out on. And big, blue eyes that stood out like blueberries on a pile of grain or her sewing table. She waved at him to come inside to come inside and heard him call to his friends to come with him. She smiled, looked again at the lone boy and met his eyes. She blinked. She made another, larger wave directing the boy to come, too. He put down his skateboard and crossed the street, keeping his gaze on her in the window.

She turned when the big group of loud boys came into her room holding cookies. They had come from the store that morning and she had heated them up while they were playing. The lone boy followed a moment later, empty-handed. She told them all to wait a moment and went to the kitchen. Her platter still held a dozen sugar cookies. She picked it up and returned to her room.

She approached the lone boy and handed the platter to him, bending over to look him in the eyes, but not saying anything. Instead, she straightened herself and called over the noise off the roughousers, “All of you sit down!” They obeyed immediately, but the lone boy remained standing for a second longer before he lowered himself to the ground. They all stared expectantly at her.

She sat down slowly in the chair at her sewing table, connecting a gaze with each boy in turn. Their expressions were identical, despite the range of their appearance. All of them were slightly bored, but with faces tight from a small amount of anxiety about what she might say.
What she said was, “You boys are exactly the same as the boys who played in the street when I was your age, except that they valued each others’ opinions. And they were happier than you are.”





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Emma H. said...
Sept. 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm
This is really nice: I like how it captures the importance of friendships to young children. The final sentence is a great finish to this piece as well. I also like the way the narrative focuses on the grandmother and not the boys: it helps to put things into perspective. Great work :)
 
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