Tiny Box of Treasures

Light delicatly flows down the stairwell and surrounds LittleMe who is carefully pulling out a box of good memories; ROCK stands guard so that noone interrupts her stolen moments of happiness. The box is cardboard and has a tattered top and freyed twine tied around it to hold them tight. Each memory is embraced, sometimes hastily before her pain comes rushing in like a flash flood.

Sitting in a crouched position in a concrete draining pipe that goes under a paved street, LittleMe presses her sneakers against one side of the tunnel and with her back curving in sync with the tubular safe place she watches the water flow past and under her bent knees, careful not to let her shoes get wet. The creek unnamed traveled along her mother’s property where it met the tunnel and gathered into a pool on the other side where crawdaddy’s and frogs were abundant. The local kids on her dead end street often met up at the creek’s murky pond on the relentless boiling hot summer days and their plans would unwind from there. The creek continued on from the meeting point winding further on to other neighbor’s yards and emptied into a large lake. The lake was said to be full of cotton mouths and water moccasins; on the trail through the high grass were stretches of thick brumble where copperheads made their nests and boys were always daring others to go into the great abyss that was beyond the paved street. At the road’s circular end were mysterious grounds with two homes. One was unkempt and unlike the rest of the homes which had pretty lawns and gardens and it was known that the parents to three of the Jackstaff Drive gang were poverty stricken. They had a dog that followed all of the children around named Buffy. Buffy had long worms dangling from her butt and everyone would run from her. She was a shiny black, and a fairly big mixed breed and had many litters of puppies. She was always where the kids were hanging out. On the other side of the dead end was a large, well kept white house with an elderly woman and her grown-up mentally challenged son. Some days this man would come to the creek and want to follow the kids around. His name was Benny. In the tunnel I was quiet, no one knew but one very special girl pal that I hid in there. I could hear the boys teasing Benny and screaming with laughter at Buffy’s worms. They asked Benny to unzip his pants and pee and he did. LittleMe wanted no part in that and began to stick damp moss onto the tunnel walls. Shapes of hearts, peace signs and smiley faces stuck well to the inside of the tunnel once they dried. Inside this make shift haven LittleMe’s dog who was a peek-a-poo named Bridgette-Marie would sit by her loyaly and also escape from the burning heat. This tunnel was where much reflection occurred about good and bad things and in between not much of nothing things. Why did she feel so apart from the rest of the kids on the street? Likely because they got into a lot of trouble for sure and she wanted no part in that. The dares were horrendous and involved knocking on Benny’s mother’s door and hiding, sneaking up to the local high school principle’s windows and peeking in, climbing over fences with signs which read “keep out”, “private property” and “violaters will be prosecuted” and more. After dinner they’d go out again when the lightening bugs were plentiful and dusk made hide and seek the perfect game. LittleMe liked to lay on the grass sharing stories with her best girlfriend. Slapping mosquitos was a full time job and often everyone would roll down a huge grassy knoll that ended at the creek to find relief from the pesky night time creepers. The memory which is held so dear is simplicity. No worries, no fear, just summer slowly unfolding. The memory of coming inside the air conditioned house, being checked for ticks then plopping into a vinyl yellow bean bag chair in front of the television. The ease of not knowing much. The freedom from dark pain and muddled feelings. The memory of getting into bed and not lieing awake with worries and old BaDDaD flashbacks. The box is closed and soon tucked away for now and in the night, before the dreams come LittleMe begs her brain to forget. Rain falls and the light has slipped away. ROCK pulls her up and encourages her to be strong. LittleMe listens and ties the purity of youth up with the freyed twine, tiny tears form and she huddles under an old quilt in between peace and pain.