Strawberry Firecrackers
by Kate E.

820 words (5.5-6 minutes)

      An elderly Woman remembers her late husband and her childhood. She goes from the first stages of love until the final goodbye. ~

Here I am 84 years old. I can’t walk without pain. I can’t even take care of myself. It makes me so mad sometimes. I haven’t been outside in weeks. (Looks out window) It looks warm outside. I bet all of the birds are singing. I bet little kids are playing hopscotch and jumping rope. How I loved hopscotch. Hopscotch and jump rope.

Oh, school must be out. Look at those kids. Skipping home from school, how I wish I could still skip. Their backpacks look so heavy, but look at their smiles. I used to walk home this way. I lived just on the other side of the coal mine. I walked home by myself for 2 years. I was the oldest and we didn’t have any neighbors that had kids.

I think I was ten when Jamie’s family moved in. He was the third boy out of 4. He was a year older than I was. We were good friends. Jamie taught me how to fish and find treasure with a treasure map. I taught him how to make a flower crown. (Smiles)

I remember when Jamie changed his name. I was 14. Jamie said his name sounded “girly”, I told him it was fine, he said that was because I was a girl. That hurt. Jamie said that everyone was to call him James. He said that was the name he was born with. Not to me, I still called him Jamie.

(Says in a far off voice, as if she can see it happening again) I can see the place were they set off firecrackers on the fourth of July from my window. We couldn’t see it from my house. On July 4th we would go over to Jamie’s house, up on the hill and climb onto the roof of the barn. We could see to the field. Oh, all those firecrackers. It was then that I found out I really liked Jamie. We were sitting up there watching the firecrackers. Everyone else had gone inside. I said that the firecrackers were very pretty. Jamie told me I was pretty, he kissed me then, on my cheek. My blushing face felt just like one of the strawberry colored firecrackers. (Smiles) The next year Jamie had to drop out of school. He said that he was just happy his dad let him go that far in school. Jamie had to work. His oldest brother had gotten married, it was his turn to bring in some money. I graduated 2 years latter. There were three kids in my graduating class. All of us were girls. I wanted to go to college, I wanted to be a teacher. My mom said that it isn’t for women to work. She just wanted me to get married and have kids. (Sighs) She sent me to my aunt’s house in the city that summer, so that I could find a husband. I only liked Jamie. I knew it then. For a while I would have said that he was my beau, but then he stopped coming around. I still think it was because of his job at the factory. (Bites lip) When I was at my aunt’s house I met a lot of boys. Some of them made me laugh and some were handsome, but none were like Jamie. When I came back that fall I saw Jamie. (Smiling) He was more handsome than ever. He came and visited a lot and my family was constantly teasing me about it. Every time I walked into the room my little sister Jessica would chant “My sister is going to get married, my sister is going to get married…” My face turned as red as a strawberry every time. (Touches her face) One day Jamie came over. Jessica was there. She walked over and said “just ask her already, you know she’ll say yes!” I told her to hush. (Lowers eyes, pantomime) I couldn’t raise my eyes. I couldn’t stand to see his face. When he asked me if I would be his wife, color rose to my cheeks and it was just like that forth of July 3 years before. (Looking out window) We got married in the spring. The birds were singing. I told my sisters that I loved him more than my parents, they said that was how it should be. I loved our kids too. (Sadly) When Jamie died last year, part of me died too. I never liked any boy but Jamie, and I never loved any man but James. (Smiles) I never did call him that. Not even on our last day together. He was always Jamie to me, that boy who taught me to fish and be a pirate. (As though it is hard to say) Someday I’ll see him again and, I will feel the color rising to my face. (Weakly) Just like a Strawberry Firecracker.

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