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Rated: E · Short Story · Friendship · #2179470
The true story about the magic of childhood friendship...
I'm not really sure just when I first saw them together, or even had an awareness that they had both moved into the apartment complex, but the fact that they had done so and had immediately become best friends in the unique way that only pre-teen girls on the very cusp of puberty seem to be able to do was without question. A robust strawberry blonde with pale freckles and an infectious, ready laugh paired up with a slight, dark-haired girl with sharp features and a luminous, but painfully shy smile. A 'heart-breaker' in years to come. Opposites, perhaps, in their features, but clearly sharing the same heart. "Kindred spirits" Anne of Avonlea would have named them and they surely were every bit of that. I had no idea of their familys' circumstances, but they both unfailingly wore dresses when they played together. Always. Their brothers and the young neighbor boys, a menagerie of tow-headed sprites endlessly zipping around the complex, would stop by to annoy the girls or encourage them to join the ragamuffins in their mischief, but the young ladies would have none of it. They kept to their sidewalk. They were civilized, thank you...

They had quite easily charmed me from a distance and I looked for them every time I came home from work in the afternoon...and I was rarely disappointed, for they were constantly together: holding hands, skipping rope, playing jacks, or sitting on the curb with their heads together reading the same book...though quite improbable, I like to imagine it was a Nancy Drew mystery...

I was doing my usual shopping at Walmart one Saturday morning when I came across an aisle display of plastic containers with sidewalk chalk in a wide assortment of pastel colors and my thoughts immediately went to the young friends playing on the sidewalk. It's not like I had much of a choice. I got home later that afternoon and casually made my way over to them, uncomfortably conscious of how it may have looked, and I quickly presented them with the chalk and hurried away. As I walked back to my apartment, I smiled at their squeals of delight and allowed their earnest "thank you's!" to wash over me. That weekend, to the delight of everyone, saw an artistic color transformation on the sidewalks throughout the complex...and the next few weeks witnessed the game of 'hopscotch' elevate to a level never seen before. To put a bow on all of this, I was going to check my mail late the next week and there on the sidewalk beneath the boxes was a large message written in pastel pink "I LOVE EMILY!"...

I suppose I had become just a bit too smug in congratulating myself on my gift and its remarkable effects...for a few weeks later I came home only to see the girls playing on opposite sides of the driveway, very deliberately ignoring each other. They had each recruited a small circle of adoring fans, in whom they had absolutely no interest, to work their charms upon while each girl quite pointedly acted as though the other had fallen off the earth. Or more accurately...had never even lived upon it, all the while casting the occasional malignant eye in the other's direction. Whatever the problem was, two young boys would have quickly 'wrestled it out' and immediately forgotten it and went back to having fun. But not two girls. I didn't start this life with a great understanding of the mysterious perplexities of the female of the species, regardless of how old they may be, and the aging process has done little to improve it. This was further driven home when I approached the mailbox and was appalled to see written on the sidewalk (in pastel pink, of course) "I HATE EMILY!"...

Cooler weather soon moved in as the days got much shorter and I frequently arrived home after dark. School had started up a couple of months back and I rarely saw any kids about, much less the girls, and I wondered how things had played out between them. I got my answer one Saturday afternoon when I arrived home to see a large U-Haul backed up to the apartment of one of the girls, apparently fully loaded...for the truck was idling and ready to leave. I couldn't help but watch as the girls stood there on the sidewalk, holding on tightly, doing their best to give each other a "friends forever" hug that each could feel for a lifetime. They tearfully parted and the blonde reluctantly got up into the cab of the truck with her Dad and put her hand against the window in goodbye as they slowly pulled away. The dark-haired girl haltingly returned a farewell wave...then slowly eased herself down to the sidewalk and stared until the truck was out of sight before putting her head down in arms crossed loosely over her knees. I went inside but frequently checked on her through the kitchen window and saw her still sitting there when it was almost dark. The next time I looked, she had disappeared inside and I decided to go down and get my mail. Barely legible in pastel pink, following an afternoon of tears, was one final message on the sidewalk: "I MISS EMILY."...

The dark-haired girl soon moved away as well, without my ever knowing her name...and I oddly felt as though a small chapter of my life had closed with both of them gone. Wherever they each may be today, should they not meet again in this life...whether at school, at the supermarket, or at their own kids' ball game where joyful screams of delight would accompany their instant recognition while they achingly embraced away the years...then I pray they surely will one distant day in Heaven, where they can hold hands, skip rope, and forever write "I LOVE YOU" on alabaster sidewalks...with an endless supply of pastel pink chalk...

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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2179470