The year I was nine, May was warm. Very warm. And it was a no no for any child to go barefoot: That was reserved for the first of June. It was some unwritten parent code that was strictly enforced. I think that all mothers conspired to keep it enforced because if a mother in the neighborhood saw you barefooted, she told your mom. God forbid that would ever happen to me. That warm May Saturday was the day before Mother’s Day. I was one of those part tomboy and part girly-girl. At the end of my street was a paved dead end circle and past that were the woods.
I knew those woods well for I explored about every inch of them with girls and boys in the neighborhood. But all of us knew not to go past our fort we made, for the woods lurked dark and dangerous to us. And what made it even worse was that all of us had seen an old man and an old woman come out of the darkness carrying baskets of eggs. Where did they live? Oh we’d find out and just seeing that old house terrified all of us. I’d see this couple walk down my street and they never spoke to anyone but kept on walking down and off the hill apparently. They terrified me. They terrified other kids that lived around me.
I had seen an old movie “The Red House” with Edward G. Robinson: The house was deep in the woods and the movie scared me to death. Associated that house with this couple and thought that they were killers.
But on that specific Saturday before Mother’s Day, I got a brainstorm and told my best friend about it. “Let’s go up to the woods and past the fort. I saw some wild rose bushes growing there. And we could pick some for our moms. Wouldn’t they be happy?”
My plan worked for she agreed to go with me. No way did I want to go up there alone for not only were the woods scary past our fort but also that old couple lived somewhere past that. I told my parents that I was going up to the circle to play along with my friend and they said it was okay. Little did they know what plan I had in my mind and I wasn’t about to tell them either. Some kids were playing there and saw us go into the woods but my friend and I ignored them. Both of us had on white leather sandals with socks.
The excitement of my showing her the wild rose bushes shoved aside my fear of having that couple jump out at us. Of course she too was aware of them and feared them as much as I did. We trudged through the woods way past our boundary and as we did, we realized we were in wet dirt. Our white socks and shoes were now covered with mud. It hadn’t rained and I wondered; so did she because she looked at me puzzled. And to the right on a hill were those sought after wild rose bushes. I’m not sure which one of us took off our muddy socks and sandals but both of us did and climbed that hill barefooted where the rose bushes were.
I tugged trying to pull a wild rose bush out of the soggy ground but only managed to fall right into the muddy dirt. She came to help me and then was in the same predicament as I was: Both of us were stuck in the mud. And neither of us had any success at pulling a wild rose bush out of the ground. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs and it must have been contagious because then she did. Maybe it was due to a movie I had seen about quick sand—for that is what I thought both of us were caught in. The more I screamed, the more scared I became. Same for her. Dusk was almost setting in and what were we going to do?
It was the ultimate fear that came in the form of that old woman and man—the egg sellers. At that point neither my friend nor I cared who it was; all we wanted was taken out of the mud that encased us both. The old man reached out his long arm and pulled her out first and then me. As for the old woman, she just stood there and stared at us. I remember thanking him while terrified of him at the same time. I looked down at my mud covered feet and legs knowing full well what would happen to me when I got home. My friend didn’t have to say anything for she knew it too. It was at this time of us standing there with the couple, that the old woman went over and picked a huge armload of wild rose bush’s stems loaded with white blooms. She handed us each a huge bunch, we thanked her, retrieved our muddy white socks and sandals and came out of the woods. Both my friend and I were holding huge amounts of wild rose bushes and our socks and sandals.
I just couldn’t wait to get home and give those wild roses to my mom. Knew she would be so thrilled to get them as a before gift for Mother’s Day. And my friend felt the same way. But to our shock, the entire neighborhood—adults and kids were rushing towards us. Reason? Everyone thought something horrible had happened to us. Right there were not only my parents but hers as well: Trouble was looming. I got home first as she lived down the street from me. It was dusk and now almost dark when my parents and I got home. My friend Audie would have to face her problem next. Expecting an overwhelming thrill from my mom, there she stood looking as mad as a wet hen. But I did have that fabulous gift for her. Lo and behold, she was livid with me, cast aside the wild roses that I held in my hand and made me carry my muddy sandals and socks inside.
Don’t remember my dad’s reaction. I thought I had done a great thing for my mom. She saw it as something else for I had been gone a long time with her not knowing where I was, was mud covered and barefooted. Immediately I was thrust into the bathtub where she scrubbed me from head to foot and sent me to my room. My heart sunk. Have no idea what she did with my bunch of wild roses and I just knew I was going to be grounded for life. Sleep came easily to me for I was worn out as well as scared of the consequences the next day.
To my shock, that Sunday my mom had those wild roses in a huge glass vase on the kitchen table. “Despite it all, they’re beautiful. Thank you!” I was stunned. And realized I wouldn’t be grounded forever. “Time to get ready for church and afterwards, we’re going to your grandmother’s house.” “Okay” I said and was off to get ready for the long day. Despite a stupid idea in the first place, my humble gift of those wild roses were accepted and admired—even my dad liked them. I would later find out what happened to my friend with her mom [her mom liked her gift too except for our being gone forever,] but when we got in the car to leave for church, I was mortified to see my arms and legs covered with scratches. And no way was I going to explain it to anyone at church that asked about them either.
Some grand ideas come to kids as to what they think will be the perfect Mother’s Day gift, not realizing the consequences at all. I learned a lot in those two days that would last a lifetime. Learned about being scared, mud, wild roses, scary but nice people, scratches, scaring my parents and the entire neighborhood as well as suckering my friend to go along with me on that humdinger of an idea. At least it ended well thank heavens.
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All Rights Reserved
No it's nowhere near Mother's Day but thought you'd enjoy this story where my friend and I got in big trouble.