Then he ran ahead leaving me to wonder if they’d cave at his request. I lost track of time in reverie and had become fixated on a stone pattern near by. Squinting, I was willing the stones to form a pattern of words, some sort of magical bridge only I saw.
“Hole” I said out loud. It says hole.
I continued squinting to see if anything else came up as the stones transmuted into language in front of me. My secret game of plant math. I barely heard the crunch and turned.
“Sorry,” she looked down.
She looked down a lot, nervous and today we both wore short sleeves and colored pants. It was warm.
“We kind of match,” I said, standing up.
She did look like me a little only darker and with longer, darker hair. She may have been a little heavier than me but not by much and she had darker eyes but they seemed bright, like big new moons or black holes that shone to guide you through. Her fingernails were dirtier than mine and her hands looked dirty all the time. I was wearing pink corduroys and she was wearing light green, Easter Egg green with the same white shoes and a plain dark pink tee shirt. My tee shirt was plain light blue. A coordinated duo already.
“So let’s play!” I held my arms out.
“What do you want to play?”
“Your game! Pretend village.”
We squared each other, did nothing. Immediately irritated, I took the lead even though it wasn’t my made up thing.
“What if we start by making up our names and roles in the village. I’ll start. My name is Catarina. Pronounce it like this Cat-Uh-Reena. Practice.”
I held my hands out to encourage her.
“Now what is your name?”
She beamed, “Adelmira.”
“Cool name! Ok so I am the evil princess that wants to be turned good but needs true love to do it and so you and I are going to find a spell in the rocks and dirt to help me.”
She scratched her chin.
“Can I be a princess too?”
“Ummm, you are my dog that serves me and then one day turns into a princess because you have found all the dirt clues and eaten the right bug and we live in a house together and we each have our own princes and then become queen of different worlds but I become queen first and then help you.”
She said nothing but nodded.
“Ok, so now I am the evil princess and you are my guard dog but you are like, special and magical so you can walk over water and fly and stuff and I can fly too but not without this stick. You can fly whenever.”
I picked up the biggest stick nearby and threw it.
“Ok, dog go get it and bring it back and then we both will fly.”
I remember being surprised at how well she took direction and was willing to obey me. My friends had the same complaint about me.
“I’m going home. You’re being too bossy.”
That’s when Leana and I would fight. When I couldn’t relinquish control of what we were doing. Back then, we had more time. More time to play and make up games and tell secrets and I loved winning and being in charge. The only time I was ok with losing was if it was to impress or trick a boy, or if Leana or Leah won. I didn’t mind losing to friends. I hated losing to boys especially in math. They always gloated and said things like “girls suck” or “girls are stupid” so I liked when my girl friends won. Tyrannical, I held the class’ esteem tightly in my pocket. If I had a real role in Pretend Village it was court jester. I was tetchy like some princess’ are but also too mischievous, too loquacious, too dirty.
She brought the stick back and handed it to me.
“Very good, doggie!”
I exaggerated my motions, placing my hands on my thigh congratulating her.
“Now, lead the way to our castle and catch the stick every time I throw it.”
I started the game by throwing the stick in the other direction, deeper into the woods. Adelmira glanced at me, unsure, hesitant but then jogged and then ran. At that age, I could throw far. At that age, my demands were met with haste. At that age, I scowled when upset and made pettish cries heard. At that age, time and space were of no consequence, I knew each stone in that ditch favored me and would guide my way.
“Great, Adelmira!” and I ran to catch up