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“There’s only three boxes left in the kitchen,” The man said. I nodded. As he carried another box onto the truck, I could feel a tear sliding down my face, spreading a trail of warmth against my skin. Looking down, I kicked aside one of the many piles of dry leaves interspersed throughout the front yard. Focused on my slightly-worn red Converse sneakers, I paced around, deliberately stepping on leaves to hear the satisfying little “crunch” under my foot.
“You alright kiddo?” I glanced up to see my dad standing in the doorway. His hands were stuffed in the pockets of his long black coat, his thumbs sticking out as he fingered the woolen fabric.
“Yep,” I answered quietly, licking my chapped lips. He nodded his head and descended down the steps of the front porch, embracing me. I held him closer to my chest, digging my head into his collarbone. I could feel my throat squeezing up as I forcefully held back the tears. A gale suddenly blew my hair into a frenzy, but the air was no longer brisk. It was summertime, and there I was, on my front lawn, at seven years old.
“You’re gonna help me do this, right?” my dad gesticulated toward the broom leaning against the porch.
“Yep!” I sprung up from the warm pavement on the driveway, brushing off loose gravel from the back of my shorts. I skipped over and grabbed the broom, turning expectantly towards my father.
“Ok, I’m gonna need you to brush whatever grass comes onto the sidewalk and driveway back onto the lawn when I mow it, just like this,” my father took the broom from my hands and swept the sidewalk, the bristles on the broom making a swishing noise as he moved it back and forth.
“Got it, Daddy!” I grabbed the broom back, grinning.
“That’s my girl,” Dad smiled and pushed a loose strand of my mousy brown hair behind my ear.
“Can we start now?” I beamed.
“Of course we can.” Dad pulled the starter cord of the lawn mower, and slowly, a deafening roar filled the air. Dissonant and disturbing, I covered my ears and dashed up the rickety porch steps screaming. The creaking of the steps couldn’t even be heard through the din of the lawn mower.
Suddenly, the noise stopped. “Sweetie, what’s wrong?” Dad asked, rushing up the porch steps.
“The noise, Daddy, it’s so loud! I-I-I hate it!” I exclaimed, removing my hands from my ears.
“Aw, come on. I thought my little girl was more brave than that,” Dad raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not even scared! It was just really loud!” I crossed my arms across my chest, scrunching up my face so that my tears were not visible.
“You know what, you’re right. You’re way too strong and brave to be scared. If I’m being honest, I think I was the scared one,” Dad smiled.
“I think you were too, Daddy,” I wiped the tears off my face and smiled.
“Yeah, well thanks for wanting to help me anyway. Let’s go back in, I think I’m a little too scared to mow the lawn right now,” Dad and I laughed as a slight summer breeze tickled our shoulders.
“Sir, we’re fully loaded,” the man said as the last box hit the metal of the floor of the truck’s interior. The wind stung my cheek as I pulled away from my dad’s chest.
“Ready to go?” my father looked at me, placing his hand on my shoulder. I simply shrugged, I could feel my windpipe closing up as I held back tears. I turned away from the truck and my father as I faced the trees lining our driveway. They trembled as the the wind continually blew, shaking their remaining leaves onto the ground. I watched them scatter. Various shades of red, brown, and orange. I turned to the front of my house, examining the rickety porch steps, the feathery grey pigeon perched atop the large white windowsill, taking it all in.
“You know what, If I’m being honest, I’m a little scared,” Dad said suddenly. I turned back to face him.
“I think you are too, Dad,” I couldn’t help but smile.
“I’m definitely gonna miss this place and my little girl. But we all have to move on to bigger, greater things sometime, right?”
“Yeah we do. But you and your irrational fear of lawn mowers seems pretty great to me.”