Faces & Places

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““Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can.” ~ Douglas Pagels

My second-grade teacher, Mrs. Carr, was always glad to see me, except that one time in early spring, when she told the class not to bring her any Pussy Willows. She said she was allergic. Since I didn’t know what allergic meant, all I heard was, “bring me some Pussy Willows.” All I could think about all day was being the first one to find a bush filled with the soft, fuzzy little gray nubs. I crashed through the door as soon as the bell rang.

I was on a mission, searching high and low, yard after yard until I got to Miss Ruby’s old place. Orange flowers that looked like small trumpets, vines with big green leaves were creeping up to hide the ugly shell of an old car. The doors were missing, the seats were covered with small saplings of pine trees, growing up through the rotted floorboard with the vines and weeds. I ran my fingers over the four letters on the trunk lid: F - O - R - D. The radio antennae bent with only a smidgen of a raccoon tail dangling from a string. The birds had carried most of it off for their nests in the tall trees that were blowing every which way. Who knew and who cared? It was ugly, nasty, and I felt sorry for the raccoon wandering around in the woods without it. I climbed up on the roof of the F-O-R-D to get a better look. Peeking back at me from the corner of the back porch was a Pussy Willow bush, surrounded by the thicket like it was waiting for somebody to come and free it. Miss Ruby had planted it. I would have hugged her neck if she had been there. No one had touched it; it was mine – all mine and my heart was racing. But to get to it, I would have to climb over old worn tires, wooden chairs with broken backs, a tabletop with no legs that matched the brokebacked chairs, a couple of mattresses with smeared rust stains and pee circles, a dresser frame without the drawers, a wringer washing machine without a wringer, with a big hole in the bottom, and boxes of old dishes and other odds and ends.

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