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Childhood Promises

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Eli's house is really close to mine. There are exactly three people who have houses in between his house and my house. Mommy used to be really nervous about letting me walk over to his house alone because of bad guys, but now she lets me do it all the time. That's what I'm doing right now.

Skip. Skip. Skip.

Eli doesn't like skipping - he says it's girly, but I do it all the time. I'm skipping right now, all the way to Eli's house.

Skip, skippity-skip.

Oh. I'm here now.

Eli's door is funny because it doesn't have a doorbell. He told me one time that his daddy, who he calls Moose even though he's a man and not a moose, got really mad last year and ripped it straight off. So now they don't have a doorbell.

I knock on the door so somebody can let me in but I have to do it a couple of times because my hands are small and knocking on the door hurts sometimes.

Eli answers it and is smiling at me really big like he always does when I come over to his house.

"Hi Reesa!" he tells me.

Reesa isn't really my name. It's actually Teresa - with a T - but my Mommy calls me Reesa and when I first met Eli he heard her calling me that and now that's just what he calls me even though he knows it's not really my name.

"Hi Eli," I say back, and I follow him inside and we run upstairs to his room like we always do.

Eli has a TV in his room. It's really cool because we can watch Spongebob and play video games and everything without ever having to leave his room and that's especially helpful when we have sleepovers because Eli likes to sleep in really late - sometimes even until eight o'clock! - and I get up at six like a normal person so while I'm waiting for him to wake up I can just play Mario.

I wish Mommy would let me have a TV in my room.

"Let's play Sonic," Eli says and I say yes because Sonic is blue and blue is my favorite color.

We play Sonic for a while but then I get bored because even though I'm Sonic and he's blue and blue is the best color, Eli keeps beating me with Shadow even though Shadow's just lame black-and-red. So I put down my controller and tell Eli that I want to go play outside and then we go outside.

Eli has a nice backyard but mine's better because it has a playground that Mommy put up for me when I had my birthday. But we aren't in my backyard because we're in Eli's so we just play tag instead of playing on a playground.

"TAGYOU'REIT!" I scream as I slap his back with the front of my hand.

I'm a lot faster than Eli which Eli says isn't fair because he's a boy and boys are supposed to be faster but I told him if he's supposed to be faster then he would be faster and then that confused him because he's not faster. I think I'm also a lot smarter than him, too.

It takes a long time for Eli to catch me and when he does we're both really tired so we sit down in the grass and breathe a lot before we die. I heard from my cousin Becky that if you don't breathe you die, so ever since then I've been really sure to breathe a whole lot so I don't die and I told Eli to do the same thing because if he dies I won't have anyone to play tag with.

I take a handful of grass and sprinkle it in Eli's floppy dark hair. My hair isn't dark like Eli's, it's really light. It's almost yellow but not really. Mommy calls it "sandy." But my hair is very long and Eli's isn't so I'm okay if it isn't very dark.

Eli giggles and shakes his head to get the grass off, but it sticks to his hair like glue. He looks like a grass-monster and I tell him that.

"You look like a grass-monster."

"Roar!" he cries.

I shake my head. He is not very smart. "Eli, grass monsters don't say 'roar.'"

"Oh," he says. "Well what do they say?"

"They say..." I can't tell him right away because I don't actually know.

"Do they say 'Grrrr'?"

"No," I tell him. "Grass-monsters are nice. 'Grrrrrr' isn't a nice sound."

"But they're Grrrrrrrrrass-monsters," he points out.

He has a point there.

"Okay," I decide. "You can say 'Grrrrr.'"

"GRRRRRRRR!" Eli yells, and he reaches out with his fingers curved like monster hands. "I am a scary grass-monster!!"

I laugh really hard because he's not actually scary. But then I stop laughing because I suddenly remember something that I'm scared of and then Eli looks at me funny.

"What's the matter?" he asks.

"Bullies are scary," I say quietly.

"Only if they're fat," Eli tells me.

"Nuh-uh. Plankton's a bully and he's really little." I look at him seriously. "What if there's a scary bully at school tomorrow? I've never been to first grade before! What if there are bullies there like Plankton that want to beat me up and steal my lunch?"

Eli is very quiet for a long time. He's never been to first grade either, so tomorrow will be both our first days. I almost wonder if he's scared of bullies too, but then I remember he's not scared of anything. He told me so.

"I'll bring an extra lunch just in case," he says at last, sounding like he's thinking really hard. "And if any bully ever tries to come near you, I'll kick his a**."

I gasp. "You're not supposed to say the a-word, Eli!"

He pushes his eyebrows really close together so that he looks angry and scary. "Well I did say it and that is what I'm gonna do!"

"But what if he beats you up?"

"He won't. I know karate."

I don't really believe him because I think if Eli knew karate he would have showed me before, but I don't say anything because if he does know it I don't want him to karate-chop me.

"You're my best friend, Eli," I say instead of saying the karate thing.

"You're my best friend, too," he replies. "And that's why I'll protect you from all the bullies at school."

"We're gonna be best friends forever, aren't we?"

Eli looks at me very seriously again and then he smiles. "Forever."




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