I winced as Mamma worked on taming my hair with two perfect French braids that hung down below my shoulders. “Do I hafta wear a dress when they come, Mama?”
Mama leaned in toward my ear, “Not if I have anything to say about it.”
I tried to turn and smile, but she jerked my head around. “Sit still, Nikki.”
“They’re here.” Daddy announced.
I tried to wiggle and peek out the window. “Sit still,” Mama thunked me on the head with her thumb and forefinger.
“Ow.” I began to tap my foot impatiently as if it would help Mama hurry.
“There…go.” Mama released me and I ran clumsily out the screen door to greet my summer guest.
“Samantha, you’re finally here.” I threw my arms around my favorite cousin, and my hand became entangled in her long uncut hair. “We are going to have a blast,” I whispered into her ear.
She toyed with the ends of my braids and held me tight. “Oh Nikki, I missed you so very much.”
As we pulled away from our embrace, we examined each other carefully. My overalls with the worn out knees were a sad comparison to Samantha’s pretty green everyday dress. I could feel her smile as it melted through my whole being, she was just as excited to see me as I was to see her.
Squirming under my prudish Aunt’s scrutiny, I wrinkled my freckled nose and indicated with a slight nod that we should excuse ourselves from the adults and sneak away for a private welcome.
“Ummm, if you would please excuse us, we will let you visit privately. You can find us at my place enjoying refreshments.” I said this with all the dramatic flare of a twelve-year-old and attempted a curtsey towards my Aunt. “Ta-Ta,” I added with a girly wave.
Taking Samantha by the hand we ran down the hill in the back yard and headed straight for the tree house, the place where all our adventures began that summer.
Samantha headed up the ladder first. I had to boost her in through the trap door by pushing her bottom. She landed on her head and we fell into a heap of giggles. Oh my goodness, we laughed until our bellies ached.
“Guess what?” I handed her a peanut butter cup.
As she daintily took nibbles, I proceeded to dissect the chocolate refreshment, making a melted mess in my hands. “Mama bought some things at the thrift store for you to play in. It’s a secret. Daddy doesn’t even know. I’m sure glad my parents don’t think I should wear dresses all the time.”
Perking up Samantha shoved the remainder of her peanut butter cup into her mouth and gave me a chocolate teeth grin. “I get to be called Sami for two whole weeks.” Samantha had just checked out and made room for Sami to come play.
We had two glorious weeks of summer fun. We ran barefoot through the hayfield hand-in-hand and made flower chains to place around our heads like crowns. We caught tadpoles as we waded in the creek, and moved rotting logs just to see the field mice scurry away. Almost everyday we took bike rides to the corner store for candy or ice cream and threw rocks at an old abandoned car in the sticker bushes.
We slept in my tree house or snuggled in my twin bed and even stayed out all night under the stars. We shared our deepest darkest secrets, dreams, and frustrations. One night we talked about boys and other girly things that were beginning to happen to us.
“I hate being a girl,” I expressed in disgust. “Before school got out, Mama took me shopping…said it had become apparent that I needed some new undergarments.” I emphasized this by dramatically placing my hands over the growing bumps on my chest.
Sami laughed so hard, she snorted.
“I’d rather just wear an ace bandage,” I blurted out. “Mama said she could picture me on my wedding day, my poor husband having a difficult time unwrapping me like a mummy.” This seemed to be Sami’s undoing as she attempted to stifle her snort-laughs.
Exhausted from our moment of hysteria, Sami snuggled up to me.
“Do you think your Mama would take me bra shopping?” I could feel her warm tears soaking my shirt.
I held her tight and whispered, “Sure, but… I have an ace bandage you can borrow.”
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