Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)
TITLE: One More Ride
By Susan Storm Smith
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Aunt Margaret was just the type of auntie everybody needs. She didn't judge, didn’t argue, and didn't try to make you do things. She just offered stuff, smiled, and told you how much she loved you. I used to ask my cousins if their mom was like that all the time or was this just company manners. Spending wonderful, warm days at Aunt Margaret's house was a child's fantasy. Eagerly looking for any excuse to leave the mother/daughter stuff, I went with the boys climbing trees just for the view, climbing the trees to jump across a small nothing-below-us gulf onto the weather worn barn roof. That's where I was introduced to green apples. Large swooping leaf covered branches formed a shady patio. The limbs were so close all you had to do was reach out and pick hard orbs that fit neatly into small hands. Little sour delights that would have turned red and delicious if we hadn't used them for snacks and target practice. I suppose the ducks and cows were glad when we eventually left them alone. Bruce was a year older than me; tough, and quickly became like a brother when I was about nine. He didn't mind having a girl around.
We laughed at all the crazy things we had done over the years when we got into high school. Bruce was a senior, I was a junior, and Diane a sophomore. One night as we rode around in his newly purchased fourth-hand car, I asked him why he allowed me to hang out with him. His answer brought me back to zap-reality. "You have always been one of the guys." Looking back that wasn't such a bad thing. His sturdy and sure hands, keen eyes and patience taught me to accurately shoot a bow and arrows, sure-hit with a slingshot, and to ride motorcycles feeling the wind in my long hair as it trailed behind me.
The day finally came when we had to grow up and leave our days of "lost kids land without adults" and actually become one. The first time his wife met me, she couldn't recover fast enough. Her mouth and eyes were wide, like a deer in the headlights. "You're his c-o-u-s-I-n?"
"Yeah, why the shock?" I quipped, knowing the person that had been described to her.
"I thought you were … well, I don't know …" And her mouth shut.
Diane stood nearby quietly chortling.
I just smiled. For the festive occasion, my pastel peach colored and pearled suit, appropriately mid-calf length, matching shoes, and neatly applied makeup was radiating back at her. My best friend and cousin brother, held hands, looking with a knowing between us that you can put us in Sunday best, but you will never take the Wild West out of our souls. The jeans and Harley would be for another day. Just maybe Bruce would take another ride with me.
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