The little girl stopped in her tracks, still as a mouse. She could see a little boy on the path up ahead. Her heart jumped a little and she tried to make herself invisible; realizing in dismay that the pink organdy ruffles, frilly petticoat and shiny white shoes she wore were shouting to be looked at.
At least, that’s how it seemed whenever she was around other children her age. She noticed the boy stop and turn his head slightly in her direction, but it was only for a moment and then he started to move along the path again, stopping at the base of a large tree. She watched as he quickly shinnied up the trunk, pausing now and then to tilt his head and observe his surroundings, all the while smiling and sometimes whistling. Eventually, he settled himself in a crook of some of the highest branches. Keeping to the ferns along the side of the path, the little girl walked toward him and reaching the foot of the trunk, looked up in awe at the boy’s lofty perch.
It was only a moment before she was startled to see a battered baseball cap fall at her feet. Her eyes darted to the boy and she saw him waving her up in a gesture of “Well are you going to stand there all day or are you coming up”?
She looked at her unlikely shoes but scooted up the tree, pink frills and all and settled in the crook of the branches with him. He didn’t seem to mind that her Stepmom dressed her like a china doll and her quiet responses of nodding head and widened eyes didn’t put him off a bit. He told her his stories with smiles and waving hands and she could see every distant land of which he spoke in all the shiny colour and beauty that he did.
She followed him in his careful descent of the tree and they at the base of the tall oak. An unlikely pair; one in a Red Sox cap, faded jeans and high top sneakers and the other dressed up as pretty as a cake-topper.
They stood just looking at one another for a few moments, and then he turned his head sharply behind him and then back to her. She could see a quick decision in his eyes and he stepped forward pecked a tiny kiss on her cheek then turned on his heel and ran. Toward the figure of a woman far down the path, she could see.
He paused once to turn around and she watched him mouth the words “Can you come back tomorrow”?
She raised her hands and made the signs that were the words, she was still learning. “Yes. I’ll be here”.
She never knew that he could not see her response and she couldn’t hear his excited “I found a friend who can see just the way that I do, Mumma.”
24 May 2013