I think, I can – 1 (The Girl Next Door)

Mom told me to forget all about you. I really should listen to her and all, but a part of me wants to keep you around.

“Stop worrying about the little things in life. Change your underwear, you never know when some poor Ambulance Driver will be looking! Listen to your Parents, they actually have tried a  few things, before you were born. Eating meat is good for you. Smoking cigarettes will stunt your growth. Don’t concern yourself with her, you can do better that that.”

Mom always had a lot of things to tell me about life. She loved to tell me, what not to do, which implied that she had done them, and was just teaching me the right way, before I went wrong! I still don’t know how she knew that the neighbor girl was no good for me? We were just friends, but Mom knew better. Mom knew it would go wrong!

Once, you told me to climb up the big Oak Tree. It wasn’t dangerous, really. I believed you. I knocked a few nails into the trunk, and made a sort of ladder, taking me higher and higher. I didn’t think it to be so easy, balancing on those nails, taking the new ones out of my mouth, pounding while I tried to keep my balance. I never considered why I thought that you should be helping me. “Aren’t you coming?”. I used to ask, but I already knew your answer. “I’m keeping an eye out”, she replied. “An eye out”. It sounded like, we were doing something that we shouldn’t, but I guess, I trusted you enough to accept that as a good thing to do.

When I finally reached the top, I found a new world filled with fresh smelling leaves and highways of branches. “Don’t just look at that”, she chided me. “Look at the view”.  I did, I looked at the view. Oceans of rooftops and equally high trees met my gaze. I thought I could see to the ends of the earth, or at least to the City Park, a little farther down the street. I closed my eyes and imagined, I was a bird living high above everything else, having only the leaves to keep me company. “Well, what do you see”, came an impatient voice from below. “Oh things, you know?”

Suddenly there were voices below me. I recognized my Mother’s voice addressing my friend. “Have you seen him?” “I thought you were with him a little while ago?”. My friend didn’t reply. I held my breath, trying to blend in with the tree, fearing that my Mother could read my thoughts, and find me hiding from her. Mother’s have that ability, you know? They have eyes in the back of the neck, or so it seemed. I never really could lie to her, at least until I had met the girl next door. Then it became easier.

“No. You must be mistaken”, said as she inched away from the tree, trying to hide the small pile of bent, and discarded nails behind her back. “I thought I saw him walking toward the park.” My Mother wasn’t born yesterday. That’s what she kept telling me anyway. She looked around, and almost looked up to where I was hiding. “Well, if you do see him, send him home right away!” The sound of mistrust in her voice told me that she really wanted to say more to my friend, but hesitated. I’d probably be getting the bulk of her wrath later on, when I finally did show up again, not to mention the usual, “Stay away from that girl, she is nothing but trouble”.

Alone at last! I tried closing my eyes again, but it didn’t last for long. My friend started to climb up the nails toward me. “I hope, you’ve done a proper job of it?” she told me, while huffing and puffing her way up the tree trunk. “I wouldn’t want to break my neck. What would you do without me?”

What would I do, without her? That was a hard question to answer. I guess, I really didn’t think about it, until she said that. If she hadn’t been around, then I would probably be squirreled away in my room, reading a pile of Hardy Boy Mysteries, dreaming of racing around town in my roadster, solving crimes and whatnot.

I used to do a lot of that kind of thing. Or perhaps, knocking about the backyard, looking for black widow spiders hidden in and around the pile of lumber at the back of the garage. “Kill them, if you find them”, which was another thing my Mother loved to say. I guess, I didn’t think about them just being able to exist on their own, without someone coming along and squashing them. I knew where they were, and left them alone, but I was always ready with a heavy object, and a cry of “Got you, you little devil”, said in a very triumphant way.

She finally made her way up to the branch, where I was sitting having scraped her arms a bit, with small branches caught up in her hair. Well, here we are, she said, as if I needed to acknowledge that fact. “Yes, yes. Here we are indeed.” She looked at me, as if she could see right through me. “You are lucky to have me around”, she said while rocking back and forth on the limb, as if it were a rocking chair. “You and I make a good team, at least when your Mother isn’t around.”

Why did she need to spoil the moment, by mentioning my Mother? I was really doing fine, sitting next to her, looking at her hair and wondering why I did so. The words, Mother, brought me back to reality once again. “Aw, she doesn’t mean anything”, said while trying to sound convincing, and wondering about shy her eyes seemed to sparkle when she spoke to me.

I felt that my level of concentration was being tested by her presence. I really just wanted to enjoy the view once again, and think about how nice it was up in that tree, just me and….but now she was sitting next to me. Girls, you know? They will make you crazy! I don’t know if my Mother had invaded my thoughts, or if I had thought that on my own? I really hadn’t thought about her hair, and eyes before, but I guess we had other things to occupy our time with?

She turned toward me and smiled. That did it. That was the last nail in the coffin. That was the one that didn’t get away. My thoughts rambled on. My concentration returned, but only to smile back at her. What was I thinking? Why would I do something like that? Girls, you know! She was making me crazy with just a smile.

I almost fell out of the tree, but caught myself at the last moment. I needed to collect my senses, lest I really wanted to spend the rest of my summer vacation in the hospital. I was beginning to feel like my life had taken a new turn, around the corner or something like that. I didn’t think that things could change with just one smile, but…

I’m certain, my Mother knows a lot of things, just as I’m certain to keep a clean pair of underwear ready for those ambulance drivers. I’ll do my best to listen and learn, because she is after all my Mother!

Mom might know a lot, but she doesn’t know everything.

The one thing that Mom doesn’t know a thing about is girls! I mean, how could she?

But I did…..


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