The smile formed and stayed
as the twig of alabaster
emerged from the deep recesses
of Charlie's old house to greet me
and my father in his wheeled chair.
She was small, whippy, and shy with
a hint of sadness; her own grin's
light never reaching her eyes.
I crept closer when the adults went off to play,
not wishing to startle her.
"Hi, I'm Jacob. We, uh, we used to
make mud pies when we were little."
I husk around a chuckle as I try
to extract an emotion out of her,
preferably one that resembled optimism
A flash of weirdness went through me
as I caught on to the fact that...
I wanted to make her happy.
I wanted those brown, forlorn orbs
to sparkle at the stupid joke I just made.
It was a strange pull in my stomach,
this overpowering protectiveness I felt
towards this girl I had not seen in years.
A corner of her tiny mouth quirked
and she nodded to assure me that she did
indeed remember who I was.
Then gestured towards our juvenile fathers
pretending to wrestle -- Charlie acting
as if he was going to upend Dad's chair.
"Random or recurring?" She inquired, curious.
I chuckle appropriately, heart stuttering
a beat for no reason other than her
"It gets worse with old age." I reply,
drawing a glow. Far too soon,
we were back in the company of
our respective parents, the topic segueing
on to the ancient, rust-red truck
my old man and I had come to give to
the sleepy, little town's newcomer.
When she realized her gift, a sudden
transformation took over her and
downtrodden features woke up with a shine.
I oh-so-casually mentioned my part in
rebuilding the truck's engine, which, to
my delight, pushed her over the line
into absolute giddiness. I admit, her
accidentally catching my shoulder with
her door as she enthusiastically clambered
into the cab was halfway my fault, due to the
haziness that swept into my ears and around
my brain as a byproduct of her
(got some crackers to go with
that cheese, Jacob Black?).
I took a mechanic's liberty to insert myself
into her passenger's side and showed-off a bit
by giving her tips on the easiest
way to start the dinosaur up. When the
roar was sounding steadily in our ear canals,
she politely dropped the bomb on our
peaceful "reunion" by casually offering
me rides to school.
In quick stimultantion, my eyebrows furrowed
and I grimaced weakly, shrugging
"Us Injuns only go to school on the
reservation." I explain through another
wisecrack to alleviate things.
To my dismay, the dismal frown flickered
across her face again and I swear
she grew smaller…
Before I could do so much as feel an ounce
of guilt, however, the expression melted into
one of resignation and she turned
away from me to face the wheel
in front of her.
"That's too bad." She said quietly,
messing with the gear shift. "It
would have been nice to know one person."
She brought the shift into first and then
half-forgot I was there as she
on backing out of the driveway,
her head swinging
left-and-right to look
over both shoulders to see
out of the windows behind and to the
side of her.
My lips twisted into a thoughtful
curl, watching in a slightly wistful way as her
lovely features (lame-assed Shakespeare I am)
filled the rearview mirror. It reflected
her hypnotizingly brown eyes back at her,
making my heart tumble over a second time
so that it lay "face-down" in arteries.
I unbiddenly wondered,
the truck's squeaky tires
thumping down onto the pavement
of the road beneath us as we started off
on our test drive, where
her surprising influence on me
would lead us to in the near future…
...And I could not decide whether that
last thought was supposed to be
ominous or just downright corny.