This is in response to Michelle Weber’s WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge. And no, I haven’t done this before, but I’ve always wanted to finish something I’ve started when it came to writing. Well here it is. Done. You look at the photo prompt, write, link to WordPress, and voila! Now THIS was a challenge! I hope you enjoy reading as much I enjoyed writing (completing) it.
Maria sat listlessly scrunched between the turtle that had lost his shell and the horse she had secretly named Snow White. Every day of the entire sweltering summer, she waited for Bobby to show up for work at her dad’s modest bodega. He would help unload the heavy boxes and stock the grocery shelves. Maria’s dad could no longer lift and pull and stack and load after he had been injured in a fall last year. He was big and strong then, but he looked different now.
Back then he would grab hold of the giraffe’s neck out in front of the store and run in circles as she sat on Snow White’s brilliant yellow saddle. The ride would whirl with such great speed, causing Maria to hold tight with both hands and squeeze her knees against the horse’s barrel. She would throw back her head and laugh until tears streamed across her cheeks. That’s how fast Poppy would push. So fast she could hardly catch her breath.
This was the summer that Maria fell in love with Bobby. It was a pure and innocent love. Bobby was like the brother she had worshipped before he went away to fight in a war she knew nothing about. Nothing except that it took her brother, Marc forever away from her.
In the days before the war, Marc would help at the bodega every chance he had and he would twirl Maria around on the brightly colored carousel as much as time would allow. But then he left. Momma tried to keep things going. She tried to help Poppy the best way she knew how, but when Marc didn’t come back, momma got sick and had to stay in bed. She was sad all the time and Poppy worked harder and harder each day. Still, he couldn’t keep up. And the carousel sat motionless as the days passed.
Fall turned into winter, then spring and except for the occasional spin it would get when someone walked by grabbing hold of the giraffe’s neck, the ride rarely whirled at all.
After Poppy’s accident, and with momma staying in bed most of the day, Maria would scrunch herself between the turtle and the pretty white horse a lot. Things were so different, until Bobby came along.
From the first day at the bodega, Bobby grabbed hold of the ride and ran Maria in circles every chance he could. She would hold tight and laugh and cry those same joyous tears. Bobby would laugh, too. But then he’d need to get back to stocking shelves, or helping customers, and Maria would sit on the edge of the carousel, waiting for the next ride to begin. She could hear Bobby whistling as he rolled the cart, burdened with boxes of colorful, fresh fruit. It always seemed like he was happy, and that made Maria happy, too.
He made her almost forget how heartbroken she was. Almost.
Now the summer was a thing of the past. School had begun and Bobby needed to be there instead of at Poppy’s bodega. On his last day of work, he had promised her he’d be back to see her, but school had started a month ago and Bobby hadn’t returned.
Poppy was struggling to keep things together. Boxes sat unopened. Some of the shelves were bare. He said he was trying to get some help, but he always had an excuse as to why he wouldn’t hire the boys that came looking for work. Maria thought it was because he loved Bobby too, but she never said this to him. If that was the reason, she understood.
Next year it would be Maria’s turn to go to school and then who would scrunch between the turtle and the horse? Since Bobby left, Maria had begun telling the animals on the carousel stories about Marc. She told of the time the ride had been delivered to the store and asked if any of them remembered that day. She reminded the tiger how he was Marc’s favorite and, how her brother had looked so silly sitting on the bright orange cat, his long legs dangling off the side of the carousel. She asked the giraffe if he missed Poppy playing with them, and apologized for his absence. She explained that he was busy, what with Marc and Bobby both gone. She said she would spend as much time as she could with them because once she went to school, she didn’t know how often she would get to play. She said she was sorry that Bobby wasn’t around to push them anymore, and then she cried.
Late in the fall and too tired to run the bodega alone, Poppy hired a boy to help. But Maria didn’t like him. He never smiled and complained that the work was too hard. He would wander out back more often than he should, and light up a cigarette while Poppy unloaded groceries and struggled to stock shelves. Maria thought Poppy should fire the boy, but, then who would lift the heavy boxes and climb the ladder to stock things up high. “Even bad help was better than no help at all,” she would hear Poppy telling customers who complained about the boy’s lazy ways.
Things were just so different.
Then, one day, while sitting on the edge of the carousel, scrunched between the turtle and the horse, Maria heard a familiar whistle. She was sure it was her imagination. In her child’s world, too much time had gone by and she had told herself he’d broken his promise. Maria wouldn’t allow herself to think that the sound was real and that it could be. But the whistle got closer and then there, rounding the corner she could see Bobby. He smiled at Maria and gestured for her to hop up on Snow White. Without hesitation and like no time had passed, she grabbed hold of the horse’s reigns and braced herself for a whirl on the bright carousel.
Click on the icon below to visit the WordPress Writing Challenge.