Sunday, May 04, 2008

Paths Home, Step on a Crack & Fireside Friends

Being a 'latch-key' kid of a single mom in the mid-1970's was kind of cool... in a cutting edge way.
While other kids had a schedule with which they expected to adhere, I could kind of make my own as long as all was good & done by the end of the day.
This sometimes meant watching Gilligans Island while Suzie did homework or playing in the hose while Dennis got whistled in by his momma for supper.
Every now and again, I would chase the ice cream man down the street with change stolen from my mother's jar.
I was a 'walker.'
Sometimes I felt like walking with Sabrina and she lived in the complete opposite direction. I would walk her home, eat whatever snack her mother handed out & then I would scoot on home.
Usually, I liked to take the 'cut-through.' I am not so sure that it was any less distance than any other way, but it was typically more peaceful & therefore the path I preferred, unless I felt like company. In the 'cut-through' path, I would venture out the side exit of the school building and cut through the fields that ultimately fed into the local high school. There, at the high school, I could walk the lap around their track and sometimes, I would venture into their expansive halls. Halls that had big-kid lockers and vending machines. In the ominous halls, I would daydream about one day having a spin at their potters wheel or wearing wooden shoes that would echo down the hall & out to the world...'I am big!'
On the far side of the high school campus was a slightly worn path that cut through the woods and fed out to the street about five doors down from my house. I liked this trail, because I could walk leisurely & stop along the way... saving rolly-pollies, chasing butterflies & sabotaging massive anthills with sticks found along the way. I rarely saw other folks on it...occasionally a high school smoking. Looking back, I guess the desolate nature of this path was why Dennis & Lara told me that their mother's didn't allow them to take the 'cut-through' even though Dennis had taken it more than a time or two with me.
Rarely did I like to take the sidewalk. But if I was busy jabber-jawing and wanted to walk with friends, this was the route I would take. Solid sidewalks...from the main entry of my elementary school all the way to my house. It was also the path that almost all of the 'walkers' on my side took. To me, this meant getting stuck behind someone slower or having to cut-off into someone's yard or the street. It also meant having to either listen or talk to some folks I would just rather not deal with. This was the route that my mother had pointed out to me when we relocated there. I imagine, it was the path she preferred & probably thought I always took.
~~~To Read FullStory, In Order, Read Post Above Now, Then Continue Below~~~
For whatever reasons, the next afternoon I took the 'sidewalk' home. But I wasn't jabber-jawing and I wasn't walking with friends. I was walking alone in a swarm of kids. I was trying to be patient & not pass anyone in people's yards or the street. To slow my pace, I looked down & focused on the ground before me & not the kids in front of me that were walking too slow. To entertain my attempt at patience, I decided to step on every single crack in the concrete. Man-made cracks every three feet & crumpled up cracks from bulging tree roots...I stepped on them all.
With sirens faintly echoing off in the distance, I heard a familiar voice bark out at me "You trying to break your mothers back?"
I stopped and leered at Dennis, who had come up behind me..."No-oh, I don't believe that stuff."
"Yeah...but what if..."
Picking up my pace & still leering over my shoulder at Dennis, I started to say something rude and instead said "firetruck."
I could see it down our long stretch of road... a good 6 blocks off but coming our way.
Dennis turned and looked at it real quick and then piped off with 'Probably going to your house, since you been stepping on all them cracks."
"Don't say that Dennis"
"I'm only kidding"
"I know...but still."
The trucks passed us, turned up ahead & sirens disappeared.
Dennis joined me & we both picked up stride, passing the masses...not that we felt pressed to get anywhere. It's just what we did when in the herd-mentality, we liked to be at the front, even if we knew all the kids would be at home before we got to our final destinations.
At the four-way stop sign, where Dennis usually took to the left and me to the right, we stopped for a moment. Plopping our books on the concrete ditch coverage we sat over the world below and talked. We talked about car washes for money, the neighbors bunny farm & about how snobby-nosed Abbie thought her cousin looked like the Fonz, which ultimately made her as cool as sliced bread.
Finally, we heard the whistle of Dennis' mom.
Dennis headed off to the left & I took to the right.
My head must have been down to the ground, because at first I didn't see it and I know I should have.
Black smoke. Not gray, not
Rolling, tumbling, lapping like the parched tongue of a dog in the dead heat of the summer, the smoke made it's way through the trees and into the sky.
I picked up my pace, thinking 'Oh yeah, there were firetrucks.'
Two more houses down, my stomach jumped to my throat, my heart sank to my groin and I dropped my books in a mad dash.
Then, I froze in my the middle of the road and I let every doubt and every belief and every fear and every day dream I had ever had, every crack I had ever stepped on leached out of me in a scream....."DENNIS!!!"
Somehow, in an instant everything in my head placed blame on him & everything about me needed him more than ever.
Two doors down from my house, Dennis sat on the curb with me, as the firemen did their job.
"You should tell them."
"No, not yet"
After the fire was extinguished and the yellow tape was drawn...Dennis & I ventured closer to the house. The doors were gone, the windows were gone, the white brick was crumbled in some spots and was charred black & gray all over. Through the saturated & stained rumble I could see straight into the kitchen & hanging from the center wall was our phone ... a red wall-mounted rotary phone. It was stretched out to the floor, numbers in circles spanning two feet... like me, melted in its' place.
"You gotta tell them before they leave."
"See my phone? What am I gonna do? I was waiting to call my Mother first."
(Paths Home, Step on a Crack & Fireside Friends is from my imagination, not my past...a first for me here)
Today, the phone hangs, all five feet of it, like artwork from the kitchen wall.


Mel said...

Scared me.....LOL

Well, temporarily, it did.

I'm good now--I know it's a story!

And, in the normal SLB fashion, a well written (boy can I relate to the 'other path' stuff) one to boot!

Shall I wait for the next installment?
Cuz it has my attention!

singleton said...

Oh sweet sister, how on earth do you have room in that mind of yours for flights of fiction? And one so real and tangled that for a moment, even I, wondered if I had buried yet another childhood memory in a plastic suitcase.
Much love sweet one

skinnylittleblonde said...

MEl! Lol, didn't mean to scare you. i don't really know where this came flew rather quickly and I had to delete half of it before publishing because it was sooooo long (a big chunk actually about Dennis & the cut-through path)But this was something new for me, so it was fun. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Sing...Lol, well I learned something about myself... I write the same, whether truth or fiction. ILYSVM xoxoxox


A wonderfully written story Skinny,,has all the elements of good fiction!

I must say however, that your real life, everyday telling of true tall tales is every bit as compelling,,,,exciting, intriguing,,,you just write right, that's all!

Shimmerrings said...

Skinny, I loved this! It really was sounding for real, just like your every day life stories that you share. I think you are an excellant writer, whether true or fiction... and, even fiction gets it's basis from something deep within that rings true.

And thanks, Soul Sister, for that awesome award! When you said, over at my place, that you left something for me, I couldn't figure out what or where... then I came back over, again, and there it was... totally unexpected! You've such a big Heart! And another thing is for sure, sometimes we do have to dig deep... in order to gather strength from our Mother, the Earth, that we might be able to reach upward and out... always up and out. I'm so happy to know that something in my sharings can be seen for what I hope it always is. Again, thanks!

The CEO said...

I didn't know it was fiction. Totally mezmerizing.

skinnylittleblonde said..., I have to admit that last night I read it for the first time in it's entirety(yes, a day after publishing...hahahha) and Had I not deleted the huge chunk about Dennis & the trails it wouuld have had better flow and would have met my intentions a little better...a story about kids coming of age, bonding, blaming, supporting, living & learning., yep, I guess I just learned that I write how I write whether it's the truth or not. Hmmm...I wonder why I bite at lying? Doesn't seem to make sense! And, oh yeah, I always see you seeing, believing, absorbing, sharing, inspiring & giving back... even when you aren't putting up new posts, you're still on my mind & in my heart.

Ceo...You Flatter! Maybe I will put back, or add later, the chunk about Dennis & the trails. Having read it myself now, I see that it really was a needed tethering. to work too, too early in the AM, after staying there too, too late last night...peace, love & hard work folks!

vicci said...

Paiger...I still need your e-mail addy sweetie....along with a address so I can send you a postcard from Paris....I'm leaving in 8 days! I never did get it last time??????? Just e-mail me the info you!
I'm sooooo excited! XO

Deeis4Dana said...

'tis good..
looking forward to the tethering..
(haha!) ;)

skinnylittleblonde said...

Dee...Lol, the tethering is up! In a jumbled kind of way...kinda like the rest of my life ;) IMYG!

Vicci...Lemme know if you didn't get it this go around...I can't wait to find out about your trip...and the wonderful pics I know you will take! xoxox

Mel said...



*going to read*

skinnylittleblonde said...

Mel...oh yeah, lots more....which explains why I took it out when posting! Lol, but I was advised my someone very dear to me & someone very honest that the part about the paths was pointless without the part I took out. He said that edited, it seemed like it was all about the fire...really, I meant for it to be about friends and the things they go through.

she said...

great read my blogger friend! for every word.. followed the path, loved the journey

"to stories!" -captured-

love, ~s.

Orhan Kahn said...

I love the configuration of this story. Well done, Paiger. I'm impressed.