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Middle School Sad Coming of Age

It May Have Been Maybury By Karen Lankford-Carnes

She was back, supposedly to “take care of some business”, except there was no business left to take care of. Her older brother and his wife had taken care of it already. They were the dynamic duo of taking care of business. They were also the only ones in the family who had their shit together. Kathy, Kelly or Kim...no, Kaye was her name, decided to take a walk around her old town. She was reminded each time that she visited a doctor that her name could’ve been Kathy or Kelly or Kim. It was amusing, but it was “none of the above.” Her heart hurt. This place was dull as it was magical. Her Maybury to her best friend’s Chicago. As she looked up and down the street, tears welled in both eyes. “Damn! Damn it! No!” She had been happy here, before it all hit the fan. That wasn’t her fault. She was just a little kid. Both of her parents had passed away within the last two years and Kaye was left feeling, well, feeling nothing. What bothered her more than their deaths was the nothingness she felt. Sociopath, much? Kaye knew enough about personality disorders to know she didn’t qualify. She hadn’t qualified for much throughout her life, come to think of it. As a child, she couldn’t wait to leave here. This...this place. The more recent changes made it all the more disgusting. When she lived there it had a small town charm. Now the place was crawling with rude people who spend more on a cup of coffee than they ever would on a nutritious lunch for their gmo rude kids. “TAYLEE! Come here and pick! What do you want? What do you want? TAYLEE! What do you want?” I guess I’ll leave. Kaye decided to head for the ice cream shop that was no longer there. In spite of herself, Kaye took inventory of the street she’d spent so much time on as a child. They didn’t waste any time getting rid of the elementary school. She thought. Too bad the 2 kids moving into those nice, new condos won’t have a school to attend. She smiled to herself, knowing that there were plenty of other elementary schools in the area, but she had been within walking distance of this one. Kaye chuckled as she remembered playing baseball with the neighborhood boys and, one particular day, slid perfectly into home. The boys were surprised! “Baker!!! Where’d you learn to slide like that?!” She was always surprising those boys. Once in a while now, she’d think of them, or maybe even see them on social media. She really did hope that they were enjoying their lives. There is such a thing as not doing so. Kaye was fortunate to still be in touch with the best of her best friends. She’d even seen Mike recently. He and his family had come to Kaye’s mother’s funeral. Her father had passed away only two years before. Kaye felt nothing. That feeling, the nothing, had bothered her, still bothered her, than if she had suffered deep depression and crying jags. Kaye knew the whys and wherefores, but didn’t feel it necessary to explain herself or her (lack of) feelings to anyone. “Everyone grieves differently...yadda, yadda.”. Something like that. As Kaye walked up the street, names came to her mind of each resident as she passed the homes. The pain turned to joy as she remembered the fun she’d had in the twins swimming pool. When Bobby got a new swing set. How nice the “neighbor-lady” who lived at the white house was. Kaye laughed out loud when she passed the “Old Grunt’s” house; one on every street,his was ours; obsessed with his lawn. We were obsessed with aggravating him. We had eleven good years here. Eleven more than most people get, I reckon.The sudden turn of events that followed was Kaye’s first hard learned lesson that she has no control over circumstances. Having started her walk with bitter tears of rememberance, Kaye felt the joy of her childhood wash over her like a crestless wave. The past was as real as the present. Kaye remembered the 3 neverending days of summer, the unmistakable aroma that comes with the new school year. New school clothes, and Halloween! She and Mike, with the ritual of riding their bike downtown, alone,because there were no “bogeyman” threats to our safety. The five & dime, the bait shop and ice cream store as a centerpiece, not to mention a bowling alley or two, we were well in the midst of our paradise. It may have been Maybury, and we couldn’t have been happier. How I wish I had known. Would I have enjoyed it anymore than I did if I had known what a brief moment of my life it was bound to be? It’s not possible. I couldn’t have enjoyed it any more than I did. Kaye looked again at the spot where her elementary school, and the playground with all of its rites of passage had been. She remembered that she wasn’t allowed to play on the “big kids” playground until first grade. The “big kids” playground loomed over the “little kids” playground teasing Kaye with all of the challenges to master. Kaye hated the “little kids” playground almost as much as she hated the “little kids” table at Thanksgiving. It was the sandbox and the tiny little swing. “There was a tornado,” mom said. Kaye mentioned in Kindergarten that the little kids playground had gravel in the sandbox. Mom said there was a tornado in Maybury that turned the sand into gravel. Kaye chuckled aloud and said All these years later and I’m still not buying it, Mom. Why’d they have to take the baseball field? The swingsets? The walk had completely changed Kaye’s disposition. I loved this place. I loved these people.What a great beginning I had here. Well what happened afterward was not her fault. Whose fault was it? Through grown-up eyes it was no ones or everyone's fault. It was Life, the Great Intruder, doing what it does best. 

August 12, 2021 08:43

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2 comments

Shoshana A
11:36 Aug 19, 2021

A Nice Story. I liked the transition which the character undergoes. If you allow me, I have just one small suggestion : break this one big paragraph. Perhaps, that would give the reader a fillip to move forward and ask for more from the story by jumping from one paragraph to another. Anyways, I liked the story... Waiting for more from your side :)

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01:19 Aug 20, 2021

Thank you, Shoshana, I appreciate the feedback and, as always, still struggling with technique. Perhaps a couple of semesters of college would help. Meanwhile, I am grateful for all suggestions. ~KLC

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