Monday, September 3, 2007

It ended before it began

I wanted to own a swimsuit like Joanne’s, white with splashy rosy-red flowers. My parents did not appreciate Joanne’s fashion sense, “That girl! She’s always prancing around half naked.” They didn’t want me playing with someone that much older than me, nor was I to go into her house, that being the mantra of the 1950’s. On our block no one was ever allowed in the individual homes of their friends, never privy to the family’s inner workings. The same went for leaving the block or scouting too far down the alleyway. Ditto the irrigation ditches.

Joanne wore no shoes with that suit when she led me down the wooden stairs to her basement. Looking up, the ceiling seemed lower than our basement’s. Her dad’s workbench was cleared, tools hanging neatly on the wall above. Doors to the other rooms down there were closed. By day her dad sold Plymouths with fins that reminded me of his hooknose. Her mom didn’t work; where was she that day?

That she had deigned to let me come over was unbelievable but to go inside her house made my stomach tumble. Usually we played horses outside, running around the perimeter of her yard neighing, stamping and probably prancing. The best part of that game was deciding which horse to be, usually a black or white stallion. The colors kept changing as we circled. My parents hated to hear me call myself a black stallion rolling their eyes when I asked why.

Hatboxes, shoeboxes and handbags were neatly stored on the opposite wall. “Don’t touch those! Look at this.” When I turned I was looking cross-eyed at the blade of a hunting knife pointed at my face. The August day was empty of air and sound. “Are you afraid of knives?” she questioned as I slowly backed away. “Well, are you?” A smile formed at the corners of her mouth and her dark eyes shone amber.

“No, yes. . .get away from me!” I ran upstairs. Laughter followed me, “Baby! I don’t play with babies. Go home!”

I never told anyone about the knife. I still wanted to look like Joanne when I got older. For now she only looked at me out of the corner of her eye as she pranced down her driveway.

She never asked me to come over again.

Experience more endings at Sunday Scribblings.


Inland Empire Girl said...

The tension in this story built into a surprise ending. She was a bit scary. We used to play horses on the playground the same way. It must have been an Idaho thing.

Marianne said...

We played horses in Oklahoma... I was always an appaloosa...
Great story.... and I remember being told to 'just stay outside and play' as opposed to going inside other folks homes...although eventually I was allowed into the Greenhaw's home. Funny, eh?