“I’m expecting great things from you,” he said to her as they stood alone in the front yard of the white house that early summer. She doesn't remember what she said, if she said anything at all, but she did think about those words a lot later on as she went to bed that night.
It was a beautiful landscape out in the west part of the county. And a large farmhouse stood by the road.
It was Saturday night. She was about two months shy of her eleventh birthday and awkwardly skinny like a bunch of toothpicks glued together. He was sitting on the patio swing. So she headed out the back door to see him. He was there with his arms crossed watching the sky post sunset. She skipped out the door and landed by plotting down right next to him.
It was a bit past dusk, but still light enough to see outlines in the distance. It was quiet.
“I’m gonna have to go and get the paper,” he said.
“Ok, I’ll walk with you,” she said.
They made it about two thirds of the way. Once they reached the scuppernong vine, he stopped to take a breath, “I don’t think I’ll be able to make it the rest of the way. You’ll have to go yourself and get it for me.”
So she hopped the rest of the way through the yard and across the gravel road to the mailbox.
He was waiting for her when she returned, and she handed the paper to him.
“Thank you,” he said. “You’re a good girl. I’m expecting great things from you.”
And he died the next year.
She always remembered that story because it was the story of her life. How many times had she or would she begin a journey with someone who believed in her, but for whatever reason, would not continue the journey with her. And she would finish the journey alone.
Maybe that's why she's a cynic. Maybe that's why she never trusts for anything, maybe that's why she never expects people to stay or follow through or actually do what they say they will do or be what they could be. Maybe that's why she never expects things to work out. Circumstance, time, and frailty will never allow anyone to finish the journey with her. How many times had she started a journey with someone she thought would stay with her, and for whatever reason, they wouldn't finish it with her, and she went the rest of the way alone?
People will ask you when you think your childhood ended, hers was over when she was eleven. When fairy tale dreams and imaginative happenings became void of possibility by the introduction of death into her world.