I woke up alone each day in my summer bed. My mother at work. I brushed my teeth. Sometimes my hair. Put on shorts and a t-shirt. Made a piece of toast with Smucker’s grape jelly and Jif creamy smooth peanut butter. Walked through the unlocked door. And continued walking. No map. No plan. I filled my pockets. A smooth rock. An abandoned neighbor’s toy. Kicked the gravel beneath my feet. Dust circled my ankles. I kicked faster. Began running. Found my bicycle in the ditch where I had left it – distracted by yesterday’s game of kickball in the open field. Rode slowly at first. Up the hill. Turned around. Fast down the hill. Again up. Again down. Faster each time. Down again. At Dynda’s. Arms extended, I ran through the cool, wet white sheets hanging on the line. Waved to Grandma Dynda, who wasn’t related to me. Ran back through the grass. Through the open door, letting it slam behind me. Gathered all the dolls and stuffed animals that would fit into my homemade orange corduroy book bag and ran back to my bicycle. Filled the basket on the handlebars and told them not to be afraid. I would take care of them. And raced on the gravel road. Raced them to where the tar began, to where I could really pick up speed. I made the sound of “weeeeeeeee,” that I imagined each one to scream. I showed them the geese near the lake. Not too close. I protected them. Took them back home for lunch. On a blanket table in the grass, we ate Campbell’s chicken noodle soup from the can. The grass tickled our backs through the blanket as a circus of clouds entertained us. I carried them back into the house in the blanket. Placed them on the bed. They didn’t argue about taking a nap. I forehead kissed each one of them. Raced through the door. Raced back in. Grabbed fifty cents, an actual 50 cent piece that I got from my grandma for my birthday. Got back on my bike that waited patiently in the driveway on its side. Rode past the gravel. On to the speed of the tar. Over the railroad tracks. Past the viking statue. Onto broadway. Stopped at Rexall Drug. Left my unlocked bike on the sidewalk. Emptied my pockets on the counter. Sifted through to find the 50 cent piece. Handed it to the smocked lady. Took a frozen Milky Way candy bar out of the freezer. Ate it in the sun. Got on my bike. Chocolate fingers stained the handlebars. Tar. Railroad tracks. Gravel. Home. Hose. Washed hands. Washed bike. Ran through open door. Grabbed the Laura Ingalls Wilder book from the bedroom side table. Forehead kissed each doll and animal again. Book in basket, I rode to Norton’s. “The girls aren’t home,” Mrs. Norton said. “That’s ok,” I said. And sat on their front steps to read. Finished two chapters. Forgot my bike. Walked home. Heard my mother’s car wheels on the gravel road and smiled. Raced to her car door. She gave me a kiss on the forehead. “What did you do today?” she asked. “Nothing,” I smiled.
Yesterday I drew on a piece of paper. I painted in my sketchbook. No one will buy it. What was it for? Sometimes I wonder… is it nothing? And then I remember. I race through the door of my open heart. Yes, I smile, nothing.