A little that could use a friend
|It wasn’t going to be a good day, even though they were all going to a party and it was nice and sunny out and the sky was bright blue, it wasn’t going to be any good.
Her parents said she could play out back for just a little tiny minute because Mommy and Daddy needed to talk. They both said it, one after the other.
“You go on outside and play, Linda Lee. Mommy and Daddy need to talk.”
“Just for a minute.”
“Just for a tiny minute, Linda Lee.”
”And don’t get your nice clothes dirty,” her mother added as her father was pouring himself a drink.
“Oh for God sake, John! Another one?"
Her father said, “You go on outside and don’t get your pretty clothes dirty, Linda Lee!” using a high voice and sounding sort of like Mommy, but a little meaner somehow.
Linda Lee never got dirty. Ever! She wondered why they always thought they needed to tell her not to. She wanted to knock her glass of juice onto the floor by accident, and she thought how strange it was for her to ever want to do something like that. Linda Lee got up from the table without knocking the juice over, and then she wondered why not, why she hadn't. She hurried outside in her pretty clothes barefoot. The screen door slap-slap-slapped closed behind her.
When her father said, “Linda Lee!” she stopped on the wood porch. “You come back in here!” She took a secret breath and came back in. “Now go out and close the screen properly!”
This time Linda Lee went out and closed the screen properly.
Her parent’s voices followed her across the expansive lawn. When she got farther away their words became a hum, loud and quick and then soft and then loud and quick again like a bee’s hum, like one ‘a them big ole’ scary black ones that bounce against windows and get all mad and hum louder and just keep on bouncing and bouncing and bouncing.
Linda Lee now stood next to the pond. Right next to it. Way closer than her parents allowed. When the hum of their voices turned back into angry words again, she thought about walking out into the pond to get farther away. They were mean, bad words. Some real, real bad ones.
A frog sat beside the pond, green and fat. Linda Lee’s first thought was that it was a bathtub toy. She bent down and picked it up with both hands. It was real! Boy oh boy was it! It felt cold and squishy and alive. It was the first real frog Linda Lee had ever held in her hands her whole life. She didn’t know much about frogs, but she knew they didn’t bite. Lusha, used to read to her sometimes about a princess and a frog but then Lusha went away, and the next maid didn’t speak English, nor did the one after that, and neither did this new one they had now.
“Linda Lee, we’re going! Come get your shoes on.”
“Come on back, we need to hurry!”
Linda Lee gave the frog a quick kiss on the head. When nothing magical happened she put the frog back down on the grass and watched it. It sat there and looked at Linda Lee and she hoped and hoped it would change into something else, but then it jumped in one mighty leap into the pond and disappeared. “Mr. Toady,” she whispered.
“Did you hear me?”
“Did you hear your father?”
Linda Lee ran quick as she could over the grass and stopped at the screen door. She looked back at the pond and saw where the rings from the frog circled wider and wider in the black water. She blew a loud smoochy-kiss toward the pond and came inside the kitchen smiling like any girl would who had herself a secret frog. The slap-slap-slap of the screen door rang through the house, sounding loud and crystal clear, like music.