Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Paths Home, Step on a Crack & Fireside Friends Excerpt

Part Two...Part one begins on May 4 Post
I imagine, it was the path she preferred & probably thought I always took.

I'm sure she really had no idea that there even was a 'cut-through' way, at least until she got the phone call from that whistle-like-clockwork mother of Dennis'.
My mother was the type of woman to pick her battles well and who believed that children should be children. She accepted that this meant that sometimes we did things that adults didn't do, but more often than not she chalked it up to lesson learned. On the few occasions when she got concerned, maybe even irate, phone calls from parents, teachers or neighbors... I could hear her on the red phone in the kitchen... 'Ahuh, Ahum, Yes, I See, Alright, I understand, Ok, Thank You for Letting Me Know.'

'Paige....did Miss Diedre give you a dollar?'
'Yes Ma'am.'
'Did you tear it up in her yard?'
'Yes Ma'am.'
'Honey, that offended her...she worked hard for that dollar. Why would you tear it up?'
'I tore into tiny pieces & balled each little piece up & watered them, then I dug a little holes & buried them. I'm gonna grow a Money Tree. I'll share it with Miss Diedre when it grows.'

'Paige...were you playing with matches today?'
'Are you sure?'
'The neighbors said they saw you in the bushes starting a fire.'
'Yeah, but I did that with dry leaves and a magnifying glass...they just smoked.'

'Paige...do you know what marijuana is?'
'Marijuana...do you know what it is?'
'Did you tell Miss Vicci she should roll her own cigarettes?'
'Oh, because her husband told me it was cheaper, but that she didn't understand.'

'Paige do you know where Cut-Through Road is?'
'Paige did you go walking in the woods by the high school today with Dennis & Lara?'
'Do you ever go into those woods alone?'
'Ummm, yea....'
'Honey, let me make this clear to you... You are to never go into the woods with Dennis or Lara again. In fact, you are to never go into those woods again, at all. Most importantly, I don't want you to ever, ever go into those woods alone.'
'But, why?'
'I received a phone call from Dennis' mother, she was most upset. You children are not to ever venture into those woods again. Not together, not alone...never again. Do you understand me? That trail is not safe'
'Yes, but why? It's cool there Momma...why?'
'Honey, this bothers me terribly... did you make Lara go potty in the woods in front of Dennis.'
'She said she really had to go & was crying. I told her to go behind a tree. Dennis was our look-out. It was no big deal.'
'Well it was big deal to Dennis & Lara's parents. They think that type of behavior is dirty. And that trail is not safe! They may not even let them walk with you in the morning!'

Up half the night, flipping & flopping on my lop-sided bed ( it only had one support board, placed at a diagonal) I found myself haunted by thoughts of confusion, betrayal and anger. Usually after my momma had received a phone call, she would question me, talk to me & then enlighten me. This time she did more. She shamed me & it didn't set pretty in my spirit.

Sometimes, not too often, but sometimes, Dennis would join me for my walk home from school on the 'cut-through' path. We usually found an adventure or two, short-lived, but something we would never discover on the sidewalk home. Once we found the mother of all anthills. It must have been crotch-high. We speared it with a fallen branch and watched as a gazillion ants climbed that branch. The rest of that walk home, we found ourselves hunting out anthills, looking for one to top the mother. If they weren't big enough to get speared, we marked them. Dennis drew a lightning bolt through those he found and I drew an X. Claiming and marking anthills wasn't too uncommon for us.
We liked to think of ourselves as the Lewis & Clark of this off-beaten path. Another time we found a huge beetle the color of gasoline on water & we called it the Magic Beetle. We imagined it to a beetle that had not yet been discovered by the rest of the world & thought about collecting it to take to school as a specimen of our discoveries, but opted to let the Magic Beetle stay hidden in the woods.
Once we found a note, written by a high school girl to a boy named Tommy, torn into shreds. We plucked rain & dew-stained pieced up from the pine straw carpeting & out of sticky bushes. We crouched down, knees to chin and booties to ankles & re-assembled the note. In it, the girl talked about hoping to meet the recipient at their 'secret spot.' As Dennis & I read this, he looked at me...'This is our secret spot, isn't it Paige?'
'Do you think it's theirs too?'
The note went on to talk about how she felt betrayed by some girl named Rosie, who had apparently told everyone all of her business. She said in the note that she wished she had never shared anything with Rosie, most especially their secret spot & she hoped that Rosie wouldn't come. She said it didn't matter if Rosie flirted with him, because she believed he truly loved her & only her. It was signed 'Celeste' with beautiful stars and a moon.
We wondered why Tommy would tear the note up & leave it in the woods for us to find. Maybe Tommy & Rosie had a thing going on & Rosie tore the note up herself. Maybe, Celeste found out that Tommy & Rosie had a secret place of their own and tore the note up before she even gave it to Tommy. In the world of maybes, anything was possible.
'I like how Celeste signed her name.'
'I sign my notes to you with a lightning bolt.'
'I know, I like them too.'
'You sometimes sign yours with peace signs'
'Yeah sometimes'
'Those should be our secret signatures & that way we don't have to sign our names. If we ever lose a note, no-one will know who it's from'
'Cool. I can handle that.'
Well, it didn't take Dennis long to pop my bubble on this one. A few days later, Lara, a mutual friend of ours, told me Dennis had given her a 'football.' A 'football' was a note folded & folded again until it was shaped like a tight little triangle that could be punted with a finger across a table, or even across the room. Hmmm....Dennis always gave me footballs, but I didn't know he was giving them to other people too. 'He signed it with a really cool drawing he did of a lightning bolt. ' I guess the lightning bolt and peace sign wasn't our secret signature, but more like his signature and mine. I found that as the school day wore on, it began to crawl up me that Dennis had taken what he had said was 'our secret' and shared it with Lara.
At the end of the day, I opted to bee-line for the cut-through road...I was down-right mad at Dennis for his misleading me into believing we had our own 'secret system' of signing notes. My brow furrowed under the high sun as I thought about Celeste, Tommy & Rosie. As I meandered my way into the shady wooded path, my mind drifted on to my mom, my dad and his girlfriend, Iris. I made a mental note to ask Mom if Lara was a flower. About 30feet to the right of the beaten path I saw a school of mushrooms, which I don't think had been there they day before. They were on the shady side of a fallen tree I sometimes would balance-beam walk across. I ventured over to check them out...soft and gray with a faint ring of peach at the edges. Quite pretty. I sat on the fallen tree & plopped the head off of one & inspected it's tightly ribbed underside. I wondered if it was poisonous.
About then I heard, laughter & chatter, so I froze just as I was...with my shoulders laying across my knees and my arms reaching down like an orangutans to the mushrooms. More chatter, then some whining and I knew exactly who I heard coming. The feeling seared through my body, as if that mushroom was poisoned with toxic adrenaline and anger and I had eaten some. But I hadn't eaten any mushroom and it wasn't poison. It was pure anger. Still, I didn't move. I wanted to blend right in with the woods.
'Yeah, she thinks this is a secret!Hahahaha'
'I think it's kinda scary.'
'It's not scary. Lots of people come through here.'
'We haven't seen any people'
'Yeah, but look how wide the path is...it's wider than the sidewalk.'
'Maybe it's where the bears and wolves...and werewolves walk.'
'Don't be silly. It's cool.'
'I'm scared.'
Dennis! And Lara! That idiot! What was he thinking bringing little miss prim and clean through here! Every so quietly I picked up a fallen pine cone & I tossed it into the path before them. Lara jumped and screamed, while Dennis laughed and ran to grab the pine cone.
'Don't leave me.' she whined. Laughing he hurled the pine cone into the woods to the left.
'It's just a pine cone. They fall from the trees.'
'Yeah, well, maybe it's a sign. I've never seen a pine cone just fall like that.'
My adrenaline was racing...I was now furious and entertained. I stretched my long skinny arms out a little bit further to reach for another fallen cone and got two. As they walked passed me, with her whining & him re-assuring her, I wondered if he was questioning his own sanity for bringing her down here. Then I tossed another cone, lightly. It crashed into the path right behind them. Dennis looked a little shaken by this one and Lara was on the brink of tears, but they ventured on with their pace picked up quite a bit. The speed with which they were moving surprised me and before I knew it, I hurled the third pine cone as hard as I could.
It smacked Dennis right square in the middle of his back. He jumped, yelled & turned around...little, white fists drawn and Lara... she crumpled to the ground in tears.
My entertainment and anger quickly gave way to guilt, as I realized that not only was Lara in a fit of tears, but Dennis had tinkled himself...his faded Wranglers had gone dark blue in a ribboned reflection of his moment of fear.
Before I had time to think about what I was doing, I was calling and crawling out from my depth in the woods...'Hey you guys! Calm down! Its only me!'
All the anger I had felt ten minutes earlier was now directed back at me ten-fold. Dennis was livid. His face paled with fear, turned red with anger. Lara's tears turned into sobs and her whole body convulsed as she stood up from her crumpled position.
'What the hell were you thinking Paige?!'
'I was just playing around! What were you thinking Dennis?!'
'I didn't know what the hell was going on. You scared us! Lara's crying and I...'
'I know! I see! I didn't mean for that to happen! Maybe you should have gone to the bathroom before leaving school!'
Lara's sobs turned into words....'I-yi-yi neeeeeeed tooooo teeeeeeenkul'
Ugh, now my guilt was quickly reverting back to anger and was getting coupled with frustration. I should just kept the pine cones as my own damn secret!
'Go squat on that log so you don't pee on yourself too!'
'I-yi-yi-yi cayyyunttt.'
'Yes, you can!'
'W-w-will you go with me?'
'C'mon. Dennis, you stand guard & don't look!'
'Ive never peed in the woods before.'
'Yeah, well Lara, there's no bathroom here.'
'What do I do?'
'Squat on the log, pull your panties down and tinkle.'
You would have thought the child had never stepped on a log before... as she began to squat down, she said 'what will I wipe with?'
'First of all Lara, stand the other way so that your tinkle falls on the ground behind the log...not on the log or it will splatter all back up on you and secondly, you wont wipe.'
'I can't do that. That's gross. I can't. I can't. I can't.'
'Ok, well then if you can't then let's go...but don't blame me if you tinkle yourself on the way home like Dennis did!'
Lara tinkled for so long over that fallen log that even I felt relief.
I never caught Dennis cheating and taking a peek. Despite being covered in urine himself, he seemed to be taking pride in his position as 'guard.'
The three of us walked the rest of the trail pretty much in silence, after Lara went pottty.
At one point Lara said 'This isn't so scary after all.'
'Dennis should have never brought you here.'
'It's not your secret place Paige' she piped off like little miss dignity.
'That's not the point Lara.'
'She's right Paige...lots of people come here. Look at the path, it's well worn'
'Again, that's not the point Tommy...I mean, Dennis'
'Who's Tommy?'
Before I could answer Lara's question, Dennis told her 'It's a secret.'

And so these are the details that are behind my mother getting phone calls from 'concerned parents' and me ultimately getting shamed, warned of the dangers that lurk in the woods, shamed some more, warned about walking alone, more shaming & ultimately a night of rocking my bed in fits of confusion and anger.
For whatever reasons, the next afternoon I took the 'sidewalk' home.


kj said...

i am entranced and mesmomized reading this. it is a fantastic wonderful authentic piece of writing. honest. truly.

kj said...

forgive my spelling. i know better!

Mel said...


Thorougly enjoyed it.

<-- knows how to pee in the woods...
(dunno why I thought that was necessary to share...LOL)

skinnylittleblonde said...

kj...TY. It's long! Funny that you should use the words honest & truly, as I have to point out that this is fiction, as is the intro & conclusion in post below. Have never thrown fiction up here & I used my own name as the primary characters, so it is kind of misleading.
ps...mis-spelled words are a way of life, no apologies needed silly one!

Mel...LoL! That's a plus! My grandmother told me when I was kid to always keep my legs strong, even when I got old. She was against sitting on public toilet seats, but also against leaving any splatter & said strong legs & knees were the key...hahahaha.

skinnylittleblonde said...

BTW...thanks for reading...I know it is terribly long!

singleton said...

Ahhh, Skinny.....
Your fiction is as real as yesterday! Much love, sweet child! And clink, to Shimmerings! Good going!


Nope,not terribly long, when you're into the story. One of those where you're sorry to see the end coming.
That diagonal bed slat,that could only have come from your real life,,,I'm remembering from my own long ago. This kind of thing,(along with so much else) is what makes your writing enjoyable. People can relate. This tall tale of kids being kids. We're all there.

Oh, and I love your Grandmother,,so wise, in such a 'hip' way.

BLURB.com,,,a cheap, self-publishing website. A collection of short stories,,,,in a very nice book,,,build it, and they'll come. And Sing's poetry,,,
all it takes is 12.99, and time.

Deeis4Dana said...

well done.
i really did laugh out loud at the pine cone throwing incident and it's result.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Sing...love and lots of it baby!

Wilsonsart...TY. Lol, busted on the bed slat thing! Actually slept in a bed for a couple months at a diagonal because there were no slats & with every move it rocked. I'd shimmie my foot, find a rhythm and rock myself to sleep. Oh, and Nana? She is a wonderful inspiration...generations beyond her lifetime. We are so blessed.

dee...lol, I know you & know you just love the idea of a girl making a boy tinkle himself! Maybe one day I'll write aout 'Lara' and the day she was gonna get beat up ;)

Off to work...our family has grown overnight! WELCOME Baby Landon into this world over at the Hippie Parade!

Deeis4Dana said...

Haha! That'd be awesome! I would LOVE to hear your interpretation.
Congratulations on the newest addition to the Barefoot Southern Spirits Clan. :)

savannah said...

great story, sugar! totally captivating. xoxo

Slip said...

Great story! One diagonal slat on the bed, that is living on the edge!

John-Michael said...

This is GREAT!! Oh My, You caught me up and carried me away into the parallel worlds of your mind and the woods. Splendid, indeed! You have a real knack there My Darling One!

Lovingly appreciative ...

Orhan Kahn said...

A beautiful little tale indeed! Really though, this is fiction? I would never have guessed.

Shimmerrings said...

Really nice... takes me back to my own childhood... and those feelings of being let down... how tender how young hearts are...

John-Michael said...

So, what did you think? That I'd think about you, want to enjoy a moment in your "presence," drop in, and leave without saying "Hi?" No way!


mindy said...

well told story! i think i'll plant me a money tree. what a free spirit you were and still are! xo

The CEO said...

Another great story, well told. I love the twists and turns you take.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Ugh...I have been absent and absent minded!

THE CEO...thanks! It was fun writing fiction for a change!

Mindy...Lol, wouldn't that be great?! too bad we are in an intense drought of the natural & financial kind! ;)

John Michael~ Always good to see you, My Dear! Hello!!! ;)

Shimmerings~ Little lessons we learn as kids, forget...then learn them again, on another level, as adults.

Orhan...Lol, yes it is. Well I guess tidbits are pulled from truth, here and there...but the story is fiction.

Slip...Lol, I remember once in a move, we couldn't find the slats to the bed I slept in, so we laid the box springs cock-eyed...I think it had the same effect.

Savannah... Love your name! Nice to see you. ;) Our imagination is our our biggest limitation.

Dee...Lol, the tale of Little Dee learning that to some she was known as Big Dee ;) ILYG!