Moving from the past to the present (a Writer's Cramp entry)
|A Moving Day
"Hi," I said to the quizzical young face on the other side of the screen door. "I'm from the moving company and I have an appointment with your mom. Is she available?"
She looked past me and saw only my car parked next to the family's minivan in the driveway. "If you're a mover guy, where's your truck?" asked the pony-tailed little girl suspiciously.
Somewhat amused by the combination of logic and wariness, I replied, "It's just an appointment for an estimate. I'll bring the truck the next time. May I talk to your mom, please?"
"I'll see," she replied and, shouting over her left shoulder, called out, "Mom! The moving man is here, but he didn't bring a big truck."
I smiled to myself. If she'd been a dog, there'd be a ferocious little Pekingese on the other side of the door, ready to tear my ankles off.
"It's okay, sweetheart," I heard from inside the house, "we're not moving today. Please take him to your room, so he can see the progress we've made. I'll be there, as soon as I finish this call."
Apparently satisfied by her mother's acceptance of me - and sight unseen, at that - the scowl was instantly replaced by a brilliant smile. "C'mon in, mister. Come see my room!"
She led me through the entryway, past a half bath and a small closet, and down the main hallway. At the end of the hallway, unsurprisingly, was the main bath, with a small hallway connecting the master bedroom on the right with the child's bedroom on the left. A fairly large number of boxes were visible through the open doors.
"This one's mine," the girl said, pointing proudly to the "Susan's Room" sign hung on the door.
We went in, and I started counting boxes as I made a cursory visual inspection of their contents.
I was almost finished when she suddenly announced, "I'll be right back. I've gotta go..." With that, she disappeared into the bathroom.
As I waited for either Susan's return, or her mother's appearance, I spotted what was obviously a girl's diary on the nightstand. Wondering what a youngster like that would write about, I picked it up and opened it; instantly, I knew it wasn't Susan's. The penmanship was much better than a child her age would have - and my name was prominently displayed at the top of both pages. Who was Susan's mother, and how did she know me? I flipped through a few more pages, easily spotting my name in various places. I stopped at one and began to read. The detailed description of a particular high school event, one which I also quite clearly remembered, gave me the answer: Susan's mother was Sandra Bascomb.
I'd taken pains back then to avoid Sandra whenever I could, for reasons which I couldn't even articulate. Thinking back, it seemed pretty stupid now. Looking at these entries, though, it was obvious she had tried to get close to me - as a friend, at least - and I'd pushed her away. My cheeks burned with shame.
Startled, I whirled around; Sandra stood in the doorway. This wasn't going to be easy...