Wednesday, January 21, 2009

When Crickets Cry (copy)

It was a sunny day and she was a sunny little girl. Not any older than six, possibly seven, but she had a slender frame and looked like a four-year-old. In her yellow dress, yellow socks, and white Mary Janes, she looked like the walking sun which spit out flames at intervals. One could hear her two blocks away as she hawked her wares, “Lemonaaaade! Lemonaaaade, fifty cents!”

I watched her before approaching. I wanted to see how Miss Sunshine handled herself amongst customers. The first was a neighborly lady using a lace umbrella to hide from the bright day. She took her time drinking the sweet concoction then placed her 50 cents in the Styrofoam cup sitting precariously on the stand. With a point towards the aunt working in the convenience store, she slipped a twenty into the cup before the girl could turn back around.

As another man tried to glide by on the sidewalk unnoticed, the little girl craned her head around the older woman and yelled, “Lemonaaaade! Lemonaaaade, fifty cents!” He stopped in his tracks and said, “Not now, Annie. I’m in a little bit of a hurry. I’ll come back in an hour.” He took four paces past the stand then turned around and jogged back slowing down to drop some coins in the cup, and then he was off.

I figured it was my turn to meet little Annie as the older woman hobbled down the road. She saw me crossing the street, and before I could reach her the unmistakable Southern twang, “Lemonaaaade! Lemonaaaade, fifty cents!” filled the air. Good thing I faced her head-on. A sideways approach might have set my ear throbbing.

She was a pleasant little thing by the name of Annie. As she plied me with drink, she asked question after question. How old are you? How tall are you? What size shoes do you wear? I could tell she had many repeat customers by her easy manner. It was as she stood up to show me her height that I noticed the fresh scar on her chest. Then she says, “If I get a new heart, my doctor says I might grow some more.” I too gave her the initial 50 cents, but left 20 dollars and 50 cents lighter.

I turned around to wave at her when I reached the other side of the street. She didn’t notice. As I walked away a rogue wind graced her stand and sent the Styrofoam cup soaring. Paper money swirled loose in the street. The backfire from a bread truck coming around the corner was too close for comfort when I realized what was happening.

You will love Christian author, Charles Martin’s, very first book, When Crickets Cry.

Note: These are my words written as the character Mr. Reese.