Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Faded Country

She was about 10 or 11 years old when they moved to the country side. No one bothered to explain to her why—kids are not supposed to mind adult’s affair, or even be heard in most cases. Thinking back it could be for the lack of money.

It was one unit in a row of identical condos. The front doors faced a seemingly endless orchard. It quickly became her playground as there was nothing else to do. Rows of green vegetables with an outhouse in the middle of it; a big hole full of human sewage nearby that adults warned again and again not to get too close. It wasn’t the danger of drowning that kept her away--she could still revive the odor in her mind if she closed her eyes and concentrated.

A small stream meandered by the edge of the orchard and gathered to form a small pond near the row houses. There were small fish and shrimp she could sit and watch forever, sometimes trying to catch them unsuccessfully, but always fun to do. That was where he first tried to talk to her. It wasn’t hard – he made a net of some sort to catch the little fish. It was an instant success--with the fish and with her. He must be the smartest boy she had ever known. He was probably in junior high, but in her mind much bigger than her.

Summer and the strange place were no longer unbearable. She spent much of the time outdoors, either walking among the orchard carefully to spot unfamiliar critters, or playing in the shallow water to cool down--always with a faint hope to catch a glimpse of him. He sometimes had the funny idea of putting a chair over the tiny irrigation canal at a spot under a tree, and read a book that way. She was always too shy to initiate a conversation with him. Just the sight of him pleased her enormously.

Her father would sometimes buy vegetables straight from the farmers. She remembered how he rinsed the green bunches in the little canal before coming back to the house. Once the kids were told to get some clams from the stream for dinner. She was on her knees in the cool water, with both hands combing the sand lightly. The boy volunteered to help. He was so close to her that she could hardly breathe. He was talking and showing her the tricks to get the clams, but she couldn’t hear a word. It couldn’t have lasted more than an hour, but it was an hour she will forever remember.

They were from very different families. She saw a tree in his house with little lights on it when winter came. A sight that was both beautiful and strange to her.

She was not allowed to show any interest in boys, naturally. When he performed some stunts with his bicycle outside her front door, her father told her to go inside. She was disappointed, but nothing could come close to how she felt when her father decided to move. When the boy asked, “Are you moving?” she could almost cry. She didn’t know how to say good-bye to a boy she hardly knew, but held a special spot in her memories.

It was her first heartbreak.


  1. Sarah, You know how to tell a story. You had me for every word.

  2. thanks bruce. it's an honor to be complimented by you - a great writer.

  3. I just wanted to say thanks for commenting on my blog. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who goes through stupid stuff like that. :) I really liked this post, it sounds a lot like my childhood!


  4. I really enjoy your writing - very descriptive but not indulgent in anyway. Nice work!

  5. charlene - thanks for the comment. you really captured what i'm trying to do here and i'm grateful that you noticed. now i'm paranoid by av's protocol i think i'll reply to every comment. :)



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