There was a long silence and I nearly passed out from keeping my breathing shallow enough to escape detection. The screen door slammed, then slammed again.
“Ah,” Sally breathed with a noise that sounded like a very long stretch. “The first lemonade of the season; home-made and sweeter than the law allows.”
She said it with a laugh in her voice.
“What do you think Dad would have thought of what we’re doing?”
“Oh, your Dad would have thought it a great adventure, I’m sure. Though he probably wouldn’t have wanted us here, he would’ve given us credit when he saw we got through safely enough.”
“I miss him.”
More silence than I could stand.
“I wish we could go back, Mom.”
“Mmm. Well, we never did get around to selling the place, did we? How ‘bout it? Let’s go back, Court. I’m missing our little mountain cottage more than anything. Of course, there will be a lot of work, you know. . .”
“I know, I know. . .”
“Grass grown shoulder-high, tree branches helter skelter, leaves all over everything.”
I guessed there was nothing more to say because they didn’t say it.
I went back down the alley the way I came, and crossed over to my side of the street. Sniff saw me coming. I felt her hawk’s eye on me.
“Do you know that boy’s name? Sally’s boy?”
“C.T. That’s what he told me to call him,” she answered. Then she scrunched her eyes at me.
“Just curious,” I replied.
The next week there was a realtor’s sign in Sally’s yard. The place sold within a week.
At her going away party, I cornered her.
“Why?” I asked.
“Why’d you move here?”
She thought for a minute, then looked me in the eye. “About three years ago my son and I decided to explore our roots. You know, mill through old cemeteries, read faded obituaries, tour places our ancestors lived. We thought we could learn from them.
“The bad and the useless, you know, can’t be undone. A person can’t redo yesterday. However, we thought that maybe we could continue something of the good they started.”
She stopped abruptly and looked at me.
“But then, as neighborhood monitor you knew that.”
I smiled until my face hurt.
to be continued . . .