Here's my first  #saturdayscenes    

The Walking Bridge

I know the exact moment in time my life changed. It was the year my two best friends and I discovered the mysterious old walking bridge hidden deep within the wooded dense belly of the closed State Park: going nowhere, connecting nothing, never used except by the occasional wild animal. Supposedly, it didn't exist, torn down years ago. Yet, there it was, waiting for us.


There were several words I could use to describe Mecado, the small southern town in Texas where I grew up. However, since the beginning of my fourth grade school year, the word 'predictable' wasn't one of them. Oh sure, it was still hot as Hades in the summers and, with certainty, you could rely on a those dry seasons filling the air with such heat-exhausting brittleness tumbleweeds crackled in protest as they blew across the roads. The dryness from blistering heat on a windy day felt like a beauty shop hairdryer hood, turned to high and permanently positioned over your head and face, blasting away.

But just as easily, a really wet spring would come bringing fickle summer humidity so stifling that even after a freshly scrubbed bath, sweat rose up and dribbled lazily down your skin like beads of moisture on a glass of sweet tea. Swamp coolers offered no relief then, either.

New shoots on crops, fish, and bugs, were the only living things that didn't complain about it, and you'd give your last dollar to buy a breeze. Rain filled the creeks and rivers near to bursting and the surrounding vegetation grew so thick it seemed to suck up all the air, around you, inside of you. At those times, I wished for the dryness back just to breathe deeply again.

The grasshoppers and cicadas chirred their approval of the moisture singing loudly during the day. I'd lay listening at night while seasonal frogs and crickets croaked and chirped their praises, each and all synchronizing with an occasional hoot owl and the distant train whistle.

I did like how the rain transformed everything, though. In those clingy seasons, fields packed bluebonnets so closely together they appeared a solid ocean of royal lapis lazuli blue speckled with white tops waving at you like foam off water.

The weather, however, is not the unpredictability I'm talking about. My bored lackadaisical summers days were about to end. I just didn't know it yet that summer of '63. No more would there be days entertaining myself by mindless hula-hooping; or swinging in the middle of the tire swing on my belly until it was raw; or talking into the big box fan in Daddy's garage just to hear the vibrated distortion of my own voice thrown back at me; or chasing lizards and horned toads on our dirt road. I even played third base less and less with my older farm neighbor, Jimmy, and his passel of visiting cousins.

This change about to happen, involved someone I had yet to meet, will come to love and keep in my heart forever, and someone I've known all my life and will despise and hate the rest of my dying days. It was about to change for my only friend Dawn, too.

I was Dawn Davidson's "summer friend", classified as such by her mother with a pointed arched eyebrow and glare directed at Dawn, like they had previously had this talk in private before. Mrs. Davidson insisted Dawn had her "school friends" during school, and "summer friends" after school was out for the year and to not confuse or mix the two. It was as clear as punch, at least to me anyway. I bristled, deciding I wasn't ever going to feel comfortable or fit in entirely, being the only one for miles around with darker skin. Darker even in the summertime.

However, to be honest, they didn't like Daddy and Mama much either, and they're both white. A year after they moved here Dawn's parents pitched a fit and the city officials passed an ordinance to make Daddy put up that tall tin fence around our scrapyard to keep it hidden from the highway, or else risk losing it. Daddy complied, reluctantly.

Dawn, her little brother, and parents moved across the main highway, down a ways from us. They made this long white gravelled lane flanked thickly with bushy dark green cedar trees leading to a circle dead-end at a brand new two-storied brick house. Daddy called it the Taj Mahal, on account they were rich and had oil money. They even got to name their own road, Derrick Lane.

Deer Creek Road, or FM 167, is the name of the one I lived on. I don't know who got to name ours. It's a farm-to-market caliche packed road off the highway on the west side to Dawn's east side. Daddy grumbled for two whole years after that, but the metal fencing did look nice. I told him so.

More times than I can count, Daddy would say, "The Davidson's moved outchere justa keep their damn taxes low. It woulda suited me fine if they'd a kept on a goin' due south down the highway and drove right on into the gulf when they ran outta road."

Daddy's repeated litany varied a little each time he spouted it. Such as "Let 'em drive their Station Wagon to Galveston and ferry on to a slow boat to China." Daddy could always make me laugh, but truth be told, I was just glad to have someone to play with, even as a "summer friend".

I hadn't been adopted yet when Daddy built our small a-frame house and shed fifteen years ago. The shed later became Mama's beauty shop where she also took Avon orders. It proudly boasts one swiveling beauty chair in front of a big square mirror, one hairdryer chair, a washing station, and two customer waiting chairs with a black table loaded down with Avon catalogues, magazines and a melamine kidney-shaped ash tray. Mama'd always give me the dark Avon foundation samples to play make-up with, since no one in town had complexion as dark as mine.

Soon after that, Daddy turned the big barn into a garage for his business, an auto mechanics shop. We pretty much had people coming and going all the time to either get their vehicles or hair fixed, and sometimes both. We also had one big field used only for crops, sometimes cotton, sometimes nothing. Daddy grudgingly farmed, his true passion was working on and fixing up cars and trucks. Anything with a motor really.

I can still hear his muffled voice from under a car hood, shouting over the big loud fan in the corner. "Midget," that's what he called me instead of Ella sometimes, even though I was tall for my age, "it's your first job that pays the bills, and your second one that gets you ahead in life. Remember that."

Even my after school routine changed that year. Getting my homework done as well as feeding, watering, and caring for the chickens and pets would become mundane rituals I hurried through. I did them in such a flutter of urgency, I nearly always stumbled or cut myself, or made a multitude of homework mistakes in my haste to head out the back door and plunder the thick woods south of our property line.

You see, that was the year Carolyn Rose, or "Carly", as I came to know her, came to our town. They moved into the old vacant Hutchins' place that lay past our farm, on past Jimmy's farm about another mile or so down the dirt road. They turned onto our dirt road rattling and clanking, tires crunching rocks, in a rust-speckled truck of indeterminable color, make, and model trailing a brown dust cloud.

There was white squawking chicken-feathery fluff blowing like snow over the wooden sides of the flatbed in back. The jalopy was pulling an even rustier trailer piled high with upside down furniture. In bad need of shocks, it bounced something awful, and at first, I thought there were only two adults in there until I saw a head in the middle pop up during an off bounce, like a rebound bounce on the new trampoline at Dawn's house. They looked like The Beverly Hillbillies pulling still a third smaller trailer behind the second. It was a clamoring caboose full of unhappy bleating goats.

They were a curious odd procession, to say the least. Dawn and I sat in wonder balancing on our bicycle seats, one leg down on the dirt driveway, arms hanging loosely over the handlebars. We could only squint against the evening sun, waiting for the dust to settle. I know I was staring with my mouth wide open as they drove past, 'cause the man driving the truck had skin darker than mine.


Thanks for reading! This is the opening for my WIP, from NaNo. It is very rough, and needs professional editing. Sorry about the length. It ran around 1200 word ct. If you are enjoying some of the writing in this community, please feel free to join us on #SaturdayScenes and add your own.
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