Rebecca’s story on Just a Thought was so beautifully heart wrenching. Read “The Sad Girl on the Train”. For those of you that commute you will recognize the story…we have all seen it. I love Rebecca’s stories and the art work she finds to illustrate the meaning. How can you miss.
The Morning Side of the Mountain
Dust was in the air as the evening breeze began to stir along the road. The mud in the holes had turned to gravel and sand. The yard was made level by a concrete wall that had began to crumble. The aging of the house was not really related to it’s age. Lack of material and the hurrying laborers left the owners with leaning wall and cracked sidewalks. Still, it was the best on the block. The builders had the art of making something out of nothing perfected. Six small houses sat side by side. Each had it’s own story. The morning side of the mountain lay over the roof tops. Vision blurred by youthful blithe and lifetime necessity sanded the sharp edges of their world.
Her mother combed her hair and they talked about the next day. Jessie loved the story about fairies in the garden. The pictures on the pages were the last thing she saw before sleep overtook her. She didn’t remember falling to sleep…she would wake feeling as though a magical mist had carried her off to bed. The thing she remembered the next morning was a waltz playing on the radio and her father sitting in the rocking chair with his eyes shut.
Her window was on the evening side of the little house and when dawn came, the sleep still clung to the Jessie’s heart, wishing her more dreams of days to come and happiness awaiting. But because she wanted to control her destiny she was the one that remained in control. She had learned at her mother’s knee that she must decide the “yes” and “no” of her life.
A first was the image that crossed her mind as she opened her eyes. It had been a year of firsts. The move away from grandparents only to have them buy the house next door. A new friend three houses down gave her the security of knowing she could have someone to count on. Now school in the big brick school house on the other side of town. The first day of the rest…the morning side of her life.
Her clothes lay on the end of the bed…saddle oxfords, socks, a dress bought at the store. Her supplies of paper, pencils and the beautiful blue clothe covered notebook rested on the table by the front door. Sleep vanished quickly this morning as her heart beat wildly in her chest. She would go to school today in a real school with classrooms and halls and other children her own age.
Her mother had walked with her to the school last month during the heat of August. The church she would go to was on the way and Laura, her mother, stopped to visit with the ‘church ladies’ on her way. Jessie has tapped her toe impatiently as they talked of flowers and the rain yet to come. The first glimpse of the school across the vacant lot took her breath away. Not only did she think it was beautiful, she loved the smell of that place. A playground for small children overlapped the football field and baseball diamond. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. When the water from a lone sprinkler hit the summer hardened ground it smelled like life. A fence kept the children off the highway that wound around the playground and divided the town, small as it was, in two. As with so many towns like it, not only did the roadway mark a start and stop visually, it also separated the people emotionally.
June came to the door to gather Jessie and her notebook for the walk to school. Junes dress was much too small. Her mother always bought the dresses by the number in the label. June was 8 so that was the size she got. It was new and so were her saddles and socks. But somehow she looked much older than her short 8 years. Jessie always felt safe with June. The soft spoken girl, only a year older, seemed more like a much older sister.
Jessie’s mother stayed behind to have coffee with her grandmother and clean the sidewalk the best she could. At seven, Jessie was truly on her own. As her mother watched her walk away in her dress with 7 in the label, hem near her ankles hanging loosely on the small girl’s body, she said a silent prayer for the child and then turned to her day.
“Watch out you guys! I ain’t going to turn this bike around so you can trot on the sidewalk!” Jessie had never ridden a bike or even really seen one before. The boy that slithered by them was freckled everywhere and his red hair flashed in the sun. She heard him cuss as he went past. “Sam Hill!” She had never heard a boy talk like that. She knew that this day was going to be special in every way. Bicycles and cussing. A little smile crossed her face and she stored the memory away.
The older kids had gathered by the front door of the school. Many hadn’t seen each other since spring. Summer jobs in the fields and homes far from the school cut them off from each other. The girls were dress in skirts made of wool, ironed with care on this first day. Boys sported new hair cuts and cords wrinkled already in the heat of the early September heat. Nervous giggles and hand touching told of first love and decisions that would be played out for the rest of their lives. The red headed boy clung to the edges of the group, hoping that he would over hear something. His plaid shirt was ‘homemade’ but his cords were from the store on main street. A careless way about him told more than words. And he too stored memories away for some future need. The bell rang and the door opened as the 70 young people aged 5 through 19 filed through the doors. It was the beginning of the morning side of their young lives.
…to be continued