This piece is written in response to a prompt on The Red Dress Club, a writers website I love.
The sound of my child’s scream had me opening one eye, lazily turning my head in the direction of the interruption. As I had suspected it was a scream elicited by play not by injury; I resumed my position of relaxation with a sigh of pleasure. The sun softly baking my skin after a season of sweaters and socks was blissful. As I leaned over to light a cigarette the cool wind picked up and traveled across my flesh bringing goose bumps and a full body shiver.
Fighting to convince myself to stay in my sun-seeking state of mind, I inhaled the nicotine and thought to myself “Who cares what people think, it’s May, I’m not a total freak for lying on my front lawn in a lawn chair in a tank top and shorts. My Grandmother would be here in bra and panties if she were alive.”
Sitting there that day I felt wonderful watching the gang of children on the street noisily playing, running from one front yard to the other like a gaggle of geese. I reflected upon my journey up to that date. I embraced the changes, praising God for the love and support those around me had given me.
As 5pm rolled around the neighbourhood got busier; the adults in the ‘hood were returning from work. Greetings were yelled across the road, smiles and laughter as we acknowledged the weekend state of mind which was upon us.
By 5:30 I was wearing a sweater, reluctantly conceding that it wasn’t quite summer. I resumed my position on the lawn and watched a van pull up at my friend Tammy’s across the road. A man, a woman and two little children emerged. The door to the house opened and Tammy’s two adorable little girls ran out to welcome their friends. The four children chatted and squealed as Tammy and her husband emerged from the house, greeting the other couple.
The children’s antics amused me, I watched as my children and their gang made their way over to meet the new additions to the flock. Memories of times spent with this family on a Friday evening flowed through my head. What fun it had been the spring they had moved in; realizing that we had children the same age and so much in common. Our families had shared some great times, emerging each spring excited to spend time together after practically hibernating the whole winter.
As I sipped my coffee a sinking feeling was coming over me. “Why isn’t Tammy waving at me, inviting me over?”
The man carried a case of beer to the front step and the familiar sounds followed; the case being ripped open; the clinking of the bottle; the sound of the cap being twisted off. These sounds produced a physical reaction within me. I imagined I could feel the cold beer travelling down my throat; the fullness of the flavour saturating my palate. Immediately I pushed those thoughts from my mind, replacing them with the efforts of the past year and a half. Glancing at my children I felt my resolve strengthen, they reminded me of my choice to live life fully.
There was still a nagging feeling in my chest, a tight nasty feeling which I hated to acknowledge. The question remained, what had changed, what was the reason for my exclusion from this happy group?
Was it the fact that I had stopped drinking alcohol?
Did I make our friends feel uncomfortable now?
Was my mind playing tricks on me?
Standing with a sigh, I called the girls inside for dinner.
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