Hanging Out with My Friend

When I was a kid, I played a lot with a little girl who lived next door. She was a
year younger than I. We did a lot of typical kid things, played with our dolls, told
stories to amuse ourselves, and stole a lot of green apples.

Little green apples were verboten. Our mothers warned us that they would give us
stomach aches but, of course, we didn’t care. We loved the tart taste of those little
unripe apples and stole salt shakers from the cupboard to dash on their sour white
flesh. We also stole packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid from the kitchen. Hiding
behind the house, we’d lick our fingers and dip them in the sour grains of Kool-
Aid. Another thing we stole was rhubarb from Mrs. Wallis who lived up the street.
That had to be done under cover of darkness because she guarded that rhubarb
pretty closely.

I well remember the sleepover at her house on New Year’s Eve 1960. We had
overheard dire predictions of one of the Fatima letters that was to be opened in
1960. We sat at the top of the stairs, listening to festivities on the television. We
were waiting for the world to end, so frightened were we from the conversations
we had overheard from our parents. And, of course, the world didn’t end. We
finally went to bed.

We were playing in my brother’s room one summer day, and we hatched the idea
that we would dangle each other from the bedroom window outside. We unhooked
the screen and took turns holding on to each other’s hands as we dangled from the
window. I don’t remember how many times we did it, but it’s probably a good
thing we got bored with the activity. I shudder now to think of what might have
happened to one of us.

By the time we were in high school, my friend and I had moved on to other groups
of friends, and we didn’t see much of each other except in passing. I was sad when
I heard she was pregnant and her dad kicked her out of the house. That’s what
happened back then. There was such shame involved in unmarried pregnancy. She
gave the child up and moved out west somewhere. I don’t know what kind of life
she had, but I suspect it was a hard one. I heard she died of cancer a number of
years ago, and I was saddened once again.

Cris Roll

jschopp

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