Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)
TITLE: Locked Out
By JoAnne Potter
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She pulled on the door three times before it convinced her and, while we sat on the back porch trying to decide what to do next, I looked out onto the conjoined back yards, watching the ghosts of picnics and luaus and barbecues. Though nothing turned on the spit today, I could smell a lamb’s deep garlic and rosemary. I felt the cold chlorine rush of being thrown in the pool and its accompaniment, a giggling screech, as it rose in my throat. I heard the thud of a ball long gone followed by a window’s high crack. Way too many memories.
But, true to form, Allyson and I had snuck off again, though today only to a relatively tame bottle of champagne, nothing compared to the old days’ guilty pleasures: a shared, ragged joint smoked to Simon and Garfunkel or excerpts read aloud from a copy of Lady Chatterly’s Lover hidden among piano lessons. We had nothing to hide from grown ups any more. Tomorrow Allyson would become somebody’s wife.
She pried open a basement window and we shimmied through it. I tugged a heavy green bottle from its icy shroud, giggled as the cork popped and hissed, then carried two flat, shallow glasses out to the back deck. I poured, and motes played between bubbles that broke the surface. After a fragile clinking toast, Allyson stared at the house next to Grandpa’s that tomorrow would be hers. Its back lawn fit like a puzzle piece into the others’, its borders unmarked and indistinguishable.
Without a word, Allyson rose and we walked toward her new home. Every step echoed with ancient games of jump rope or hide and seek. I thought I heard a puppy yip, then remembered the old dog it became had long since died. Passing time took up all the room in this place. It crowded out the future and left us wondering where we could grow up.
Still, tomorrow would come and we had to figure out what to do with it. We walked up two unfamiliar steps and Allyson pulled on the door. It didn’t yield. She had no key for this one, either.
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