The little blonde-haired boy was squatting on the bare brown dirt, digging with one stick and planting another, like he was transplanting trees. His mother and her friend stood there above him talking.
It was nice to be talking face to face and standing outside in the sun being warmed by it.
“Are you planting sticks?” His mother’s friend asked of him.
“Yes,” the little man said and planted another one in the same hole so that now there were three planted in it. He then scooted over a few feet, still on his haunches, to rake some leaves on the sidewalk with the same stick he was using for planting. Imaginary ideas about what a stick tool can do can be more expansive than what is thought to be able to be done with ones that are bought with dollars.
“I’m raking,” he added to get more attention.
“Is that fun?” the mother’s friend asked.
“Yes.” He was hopping in his squatting so that he could move the leaves around without standing.
His hair was very long and his mother was telling her friend that he had decided to chop it all off on his upcoming birthday.
“A boy cut?” the friend inquired.
“Well,” the mother cut across her chin with her hand to indicate, “about here,” she said. “His father is tired of people asking him if he is a girl. It’s because he’s so cute that everyone thinks he’s a girl but if they would watch him for a minute, they would see that his movement expresses very much being a boy.”
“He’s pretty,” the friend elaborated. “He’s so pretty. Maybe he just needs to pull his hair up in a man bun? Maybe that would work?”
“We have done that. They still ask.”
He was a very pretty little man. His features were fine and beautiful. He was definitely going to stay good looking as he grew. His nose was pointy but quite little and very pretty. He was sweet but that was because his mother treated him so sweetly. The whole family was the same way — kind and soft in their demeanor and all so happy to always be together — where one went they all did. The friend was somewhat wondering what it might have been like to have had several children. Likely hers would not have ended up so kind because her edges were a little rougher even though she always would have been kind — of that she was sure.
The family was purchasing a big swath of land — 40 acres — planning for the future so that they could all stay close together as they aged.
“Darn! I was always hoping your older girls would rent my house so that I could leave and go somewhere else.”
The little boy piped up and said, “I’ll come live with you!”
She was touched. “You wouldn’t like that,” she said, “you’d miss your girls too much.”
He was the only boy with three girls older and one younger. And, he was very much loved and they were all very sweet to each other — the older ones taking such good care of the younger ones.
His mother said, “You can come and live with us. There would be room for you to build a little something.”
Yes it was very nice to think that she had a friend like that.
“When Malcolm said he’d found some land, I told him I didn’t want to more out of town. We’re a big part of taking care of Grandma and my parents are getting older and you’re getting older.”
The little boy’s mother lowered her hand, palm up and pushed it forward as if she was sending out an offer to her friend across the table — the one who was also getting older — as they were sitting at the table now still talking but out of the afternoon sun. The little boy was shelling pistachios and eating them one by one beside them.
Corners of the older woman’s mouth went up into a soft smile as her body warmed at the thought that someone cared that she was getting older.
** work in progress
image credit: Stick Fence