She woke up before the sun and pressed her face against the glass pane trying hard to make out the outline of the big truck sitting in front of their single wide. Momma had been packing for weeks and their belongings were reduced to what seemed like countless cardboard boxes.
The day was finally here.
She had spent the day before running between the rows of sugar cane, conquering the ditch one last time and laying in the green pasture with the grass tickling her cheeks while she made shapes of the cloud filled sky; her way of saying goodbye the best way she knew how. She lamented there was no time to set up her bee in a mason jar table; but she did make a trip to the azalea bush tree thingy to watch the bees steal sweet goodness from the pink blossoms. She stood staring as each one disappeared and then emerged from the petals, she supposed with a full belly. She was never exactly sure how the process worked, but watching the bees had brought her many hours of entertainment.
The very last goodbye she had saved for today, she would give her best wave to the neighbors that she had played with, explored with and rode the school bus with as the truck pulled out of the drive. She had it all planned. It didn’t really seem very sad to her, in her reasoning she would see them again, that made perfect sense in her childlike mind. She wasn’t really sure what was coming next, but in her eight year old fearless heart, she was excited to run straight into it. It was all about to begin, the next big adventure.
The sun couldn’t come up quickly enough.
The mobile home was a scurry of folks as soon as the sun showed its face and she did her best to stay out from under foot, as momma called it. She grabbed any small boxes she could and dutifully carried them to the giant box on wheels that would carry them to their new home. It wasn’t long before everything that wasn’t nailed down was packed and she heard the slam of the big rolling door marking the end of the packing. She lined up with her sisters to receive hugs and proper goodbyes from the folks they were leaving behind, some even shed a few tears. There were no tears for her, this was going to be a great exploit; more places to see, more friends to meet, the unknown sounded exciting and she was ready. When all goodbyes were said, she climbed into the big truck and as it pulled out of the drive, she buckled in tight and did exactly as she had planned.
She waved big to the neighbors.
The trip was long and what started out with singing and anticipation quickly wound down to stolen sleep in between curious gazes out the window. It was in one of those stolen moments that she felt the giant yellow truck come to a stop and heard daddy say “we’re here.” It was nighttime so it was impossible to see the treasures that were surely hidden behind the dark blanket. She had no choice but to march inside this new place she would live and lie on a mattress laid directly on the floor. The blankets and pillow felt cold and the butterflies in her stomach kept her awake for quite a while. Her mind finally calmed down enough to rest when promised wonderful adventures the next day if her eyes would only stay closed long enough to get there.
She could hardly wait until morning.
It seemed like no time until she felt the sunlight tickle her face, her eyelids fluttered and finally agreed to stay open and assess this new place, her new home. The first thing she noticed was how big everything felt, her former home could fit inside this one two times, maybe three. It was then she remembered the glorious words her momma had spoken on the trip, she could pick her very own room. Her very own. This was a luxury she had never known and she jumped to her feet and immediately sprinted down the stairs to pick the one she wanted. This new place was already pretty great from her estimation.
She hit the stairs in fly mode and once she made it to the bottom, it was like a whole other house existed down there. But, what caught her eye the most was the back door. She could see through the window cut out of the pine wood that the back yard was huge and positioned at the bottom of a big hill. She could already imagine the fun they would have running down that hill, rolling down it and laying at the top enjoying the view to the bottom.
This place was grand.
Never mind the room, she longed to be outside in the sunshine on an escapade, all that stood between her and her wish was a pine door and momma. If she could just get out of the door without being spotted, she could run and play and get to know this new place. She looked behind her and up the stairs, she could hear the busy footsteps of many helpers, but no one was coming, the coast was clear. She tiptoed to the door, put her hand on the doorknob quietly turning the gold sphere, she could feel the door unlatch. Almost there. Like a mouse, she pulled the door toward her not making a sound and took one step out when she heard it.
Momma was calling and she knew better than to ignore her. Regretfully, she shut the door and with shoulders slumped and head down she headed back up the stairs to see what momma could possibly want. Turns out there is plenty an eight year old can do to help unpack, unfortunately.
It was lunch time before anyone even mentioned a break. There was a rumor that someone was bringing pizza, but turns out sandwiches were the order of the day. Peanut butter and jelly with Kool-Aid, a family favorite. Momma called all of the kids to sit at the table since some kind folks had set it up already. One and Two showed up, they were waiting on number three when momma realized that no one had seen her. Number three was her younger sister, daddy often referred to them as one, two and three, she was pretty sure it was easier for him to remember. Momma called for her throughout the house, daddy went out in the yard, no answer. The folks helping with the move-in began to help look as well and the search area broadened to down the street.
She could feel the situation heighten as person after person hadn’t seen her little sister. Momma’s face was worried and daddy was hollering her name, and for the first time since, well, since ever, she realized that something bad might’ve happened.
And it was in that young, tender moment she knew fear like she’d never known before.
Where was number three?
To be continued…