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Mary's Song (Part One)

By , Spring Grove, IL
Against my parents’ wishes, I ran out the front door and across the lawn to the house next door. I walked up to the front door like there was nothing strange about it, like it was second nature to me, which it kind of is. The door swung open before I got the chance to knock, and in the door way stood a boy, maybe a year older than me. Great, I thought, no one here to play with me.

But he thought otherwise. “My mom saw you coming, and she said I should get to know you. Where do you live?”

Looking this kid over, he was what I would later think, the cutest thing I have ever seen. He had blond hair that was left long as it hang in his face, stick straight, no curls or ripples to it that I could see. He wore a light blue shirt that had Toy Story on the front, with Woody, Buzz, and the whole gang. Good, he liked Toy Story, I thought. As I looked up at his face again, I noticed that his eyes were the color of the sky in the middle of summer on the clearest day of the year. The pretest blue I have ever seen. But of course, I didn’t think he was cute then. No, that thought took a while to form in my mind, and even when it did, it took a while for me to realize it was there.

Being a typical seven-year-old-girl, I turned my nose up at the boy standing in front of me. “Right there. Why does it matter to you?”

Just as soon as I said it, my parents came around the corner; ready to kidnap me and bring me back to the place where there is no way for a seven-year-old-girl to be herself. Not with people standing over me and telling me that no, I can’t eat dirt, no I can’t play with the worms in the garden, no I can’t play with the fish in the pond in the backyard.

My mom picked me up and set me back down on the other side of her. Didn’t do much when you think about it. My dad just bent down in the door way and looked at the boy. “Are your parents’ home?” He asked in the voice he only used on the other little kids around here.

Just then, his parents came out from behind the opened door. “Cam, who did you meet?” The lady asked, reaching to put her hand on his shoulder.

Naturally, my dad held out his hand to the people standing in the door way of the house. “I’m sorry. I am Dan; this is my wife Sue, and my daughter Mary. We live in the next house over, and I think Mary got a little anxious to see who moved in here,”

The woman took his hand, and a man started walking towards us from farther inside the house. “That’s quite alright. I am Lily, and this is my son Cam, and my husband Carl.” All the grown up’s shook hands while I was stuck farthest away from the door, just left to sit there and listen to all their boring talk about nothingness.

As soon as I was content just sitting there and listening, I felt a tug on my shirt, and turned around to see the boy there. “I’m Cam. There is a tree in the backyard that we can climb while they are here,”

This kid was good; he knew exactly what I wanted to do. “I’m Mary. And yea, I’ll race you there!” I shouted behind me as I started running towards the tree in the backyard. There was a girl that used to live here, and we used to be best friends so I knew where I tree was because we used to play on it all the time. Cam followed me, gaining on me as we ran wildly, and screamed, towards the weeping willow in his backyard.

They didn’t notice we were gone until it started to get dark, and by that time we were already running around the front yard trying to catch fireflies as they glowed and flew around in the air. After it got dark to the point to where Cam and I almost ran into each other, our parents said good night, and took us back to our house, corralling us in because we wanted to stay out and play with each other still. Once the front door closed behind me, my mom pushed me up the stairs in an attempt to get me to go to bed, but I was already asleep only half way up the stairs.

I don’t remember ever climbing into my own bed, but somehow when I woke up to the sun shining in my face, I happened to be in my own bed. But mom, I was so comfy on the stairs, I thought as I climbed out of it, and made my way to the kitchen as the smell of breakfast lured me down just as it did every morning. I didn’t bother changing out of my p.j.’s so I walked into the kitchen with my nightgown that had the Go Go Girls on it and in my red boot slippers my dad got me for Christmas one year, the smell of chocolate chip pancakes drawing me in.

“Good morning, pumpkin,” My dad said as he set a plate that had three of my daddy’s brilliant beyond brilliant pancakes on it in front of me.

“Morning daddy,” I said. Not being a morning person, I tended to wake up later than most kids, and I never liked to carry out a conversation with people right after I got up. Somehow, even after seven years of living with me, my parents still haven’t caught onto that little tiny fact.
My mom came in the kitchen next, already and dressed for work. She was more uptight about things that dad would let slide. Like dad put three pancakes in front of me, but my mom would only ever let me have two. So she yanked one off the top, and placed it on her own plate. “Sorry honey, but you know that if you have a lot of pancakes, you get a tummy ache,” She said, which may have been true, but I could try and see if I built up more of a tolerance towards them. But she would never let me try.
When she was done eating, my mom gave me and my dad a kiss and a hug, and made her way out the door. Again, one thing different in my house, I had a stay at home dad, not mom. My mom went into work every morning while my dad stayed home with me during the summer, and had the house to himself during the school year.
After we heard the car start and pull out of the driveway, my dad looked at me and smiled. “Here you go honey,” He whispered, as if mom could still hear us, as he lowered a third pancake onto my stack so I once again had three pancakes. Then, realizing how silly we were being, we burst out laughing. I almost fell right out of my chair and onto the floor because I was laughing so hard.
There was a knock on the front door, and I look at dad, thinking that it could be mom coming back. He got up and made his way to the entryway, propping the door open, but not enough that I could see who was there. But I could hear what he was saying. “Hey Cam, what’s up?” He asked.
For some reason this put me on high alert, and made me aware that I was still wearing the Go Go Girls on my nightgown, and my red slippers. I darted up the stairs and climbed them two at a time, falling every other step of the way. Once at the top, I ran into my room and slammed my door shut, and headed towards my dresser to find something to wear. I ripped everything open and threw it all onto the floor so I could see my choices in front of me, but it took forever to pick. Finally I decided on wearing a shirt I got this past year from our family vacation spot, and some jean shorts that I just got the other day at the store with mom. When I threw it all on, I started down the stairs when I remembered that I hadn’t even finished eating my pancakes! Instead of being a normal person and action normal, I ran down the stairs like a horse in its final run at the Kentucky Derby and rounded the corner into the kitchen and sitting at my plate, shoving the pancakes into my mouth.
Turns out all that effort was for nothing because there he was, sitting in the chair across from me, eating his own stack of pancakes. Great dad, let him inside and let him eat some of the pancakes too. I sighed, and slowed down my eating so I could actually chew my food instead of swallowing it whole. “Hey Mary,” Cam said, a confused look on his face, but not confused enough to ask what just happened. After all, he was two years older than me, or so I was told last night.
“Hey Cam!” I said brightly, hoping to cast off the attention of my eating and moving onto something else. “Why are you here this early?”
His face brightened a little more. “I came over to see if you wanted to play some more in the tree in my backyard again,”
I looked over at my dad who was sitting at the counter while we sat across from each other at the kitchen table. “Yes you can go play after you finish eating, and if it’s okay with Cam’s mom and dad,”
In unison, me and Cam raised our hands in the air and screamed “Yes!”. But my dad was a man of his word, so I had to finish eating all three of my pancakes before I could out outside and play with Cam. But no one said I had to finish them on my own. Every other bite was Cam’s and the others were mine. We switched off taking a bite form my plate until there was nothing left. I could tell my dad knew we were doing it, but he didn’t say anything because as long as the pancakes were gone, he was okay. I put my plate in the sink, and ran to the laundry room to get my shoes so I could put them on right away. To get there faster, we cut through my backyard, and into his backyard where the big weeping willow tree stood.
Over the course of that summer, two things worth remembering happened. In that first week, we had grown so close, we started to bagger each other like we were brother and sister. One time, he said he could take me on because he was bigger than me, and because I was a girl so I wouldn’t know how to fight. We ended up sitting on his back porch drinking some lemonade that his mom made for us an hour after that little ‘fight’.
The second thing that happened, well that was kind of a funny story looking back on it. It was towards the end of the summer, a few days before we both went back to school. We had meant out back under the tree like normal, and I asked him if he had gotten to know anyone else around here besides me. “Nope, I’ve spent all my days playing with you.” He said, trying to sound like a man, I know, but it was kind of cute all the same.
“Well then you have to do me one thing. To make sure you will remember me when we go back to school and don’t see each other every day,” I said, knowing that he wouldn’t do it because he was too afraid to even try me.
“What’s that?” He asked, rising to the challenge before he knew what it was.
“I dare you to kiss me,”
For a moment nothing happened, and we stood there facing each other like nothing had been said. But then I saw the slightest change as he started to lean forward. He puckered his lips and closed his eyes as his face came towards mine. For a moment, I was too shocked to do anything but just stare him and his face as it inched closer and closer to mine. But finally, I came to, and I screamed running in the opposite direction of him, and up the tree.
He smiled up at me, like he knew I would chicken out the whole time. “I knew it!” He called up to me, and started climbing the tree after me. “You were too afraid to kiss me, I knew you would run away, that’s the only reason I tried it!”
“I’m not afraid!” I yelled at him, even if he was right in front of me now.
“Are too!” He taunted me, like he was asking for me to kiss him.
But I was only seven, what did I know? All I wanted to do was prove him wrong, even if it meant giving him what he wanted in the end. He was sitting in front of me, so I leaned over and gave him a peck on the lips.
For a second, he just stared at me, like I had really lost my mind with that move. So I broke the silence for him. “Told ya so.”
Thus ending my first summer with Cam. But there would be many more with him, more than I could have dreamed about at that age, for I didn’t know exactly how long I would have him to be able to play with him like I did then. But as the years went on, each summer as we grew older and thought about what was going to happen in the future, I could never help but shed a tear knowing that we would eventually go our separate ways to pursue our own dreams. But for now, I had this summer, and every summer I could dream about.
But the next time I woke up, I was already sixteen, and eight years had already gone past; eight summers that we shared together had gone past. But the summer I was sixteen was one of the best summers I could have ever asked for, seeing as how it pretty much set up the rest of my life.





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