As soon as I saw the picture prompt on S.I.S’s Room for Romance blog I knew I had to write a little snapshot from my life. The story that follows is true and I’d have to guess it began way back in 1948 or so. My mother, a war widow, and I lived with my grandparents on an unpopulated hill in Eagle Rock, California. The facts and memories in this story are accurate as I remember them, down to the details.
Stewie and Me
It was in my 5th year that I met the boy who everyone assumed I would someday marry. Spring had come early that year and so had Easter. Wild daffodils surrounded the rolling hills, separating us from our closest neighbor. Their subtle scent lingered in the air.
Not long after we returned from Mass, a tentative knocking at the door startled my family. “Who’s here this at this time of the day?” Grandpa said as he pulled his lanky frame away from the breakfast table.
When he opened the door there stood Stewie, our closest neighbor, with his mother, a florist. He stuck out his arm and proffered a box. “This is for Vicki.” A faint blush spread across his freckled face as Mama propelled me to the door and guided my hands to accept the corsage made of pink carnations.
In the years that followed, as we grew older, this tender scenario repeated itself over and over. Corsages for Christmas and Easter, candy for Valentine’s Day. As closest neighbors in a rural area of Los Angeles, we became playmates. He fed my dolls mud pies and I hurled after him into danger, down steep slopes in card board boxes or on cookie sheets. He split my head open in a game of Kick the Can and pummeled me with arrow-sticks in Cowboys and Indians.
The day arrived when Mama remarried and we packed up and moved away from that house on the hill. It wasn’t goodbye for Stewie and me because visits to grandpa were frequent and filled with fun.
I remember it still. We were sitting around the table, talking over the day’s events. I was probably eleven or twelve and not much caring for the canned chop suey that sat in a puddle of soy sauce on my plate. It was Mama who answered the phone. The expression on her face told me that there were worse things than the pile of slimy veggies on the plate before me.
“Stewie’s dead,” she said.
I dropped my fork.
What would life had been like, I wonder, if he and his buddies hadn’t climbed over that fence to hitch a ride on the oil well that crushed him? Mama told me once I was old enough to understand that, even if he’d survived, he could never have been my husband.
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