Written: The Gift
He was a brief but memorable part of my childhood. It was one week during my 10th summer I spent at his house on a trip with my bus driver. His undying attention to me and only me, his jealousy when I turned my attention to his sisters, turned my dour and dreary world into sunshine.
I remember the warm softness of the homemade quilt under my fingers as he raced into the attic bedroom his sisters shared with me one very early morning. Sunlight danced kisses across my face through the dormer window behind the headboard of the bed I slept in. His twin sister sat up briefly, her arms stretched to the ceiling, then reached down to the floor. A shoe found its way from her hand to his chest as she told him to get lost and let us all sleep.
On tiptoe he and I inched down the stairs, suppressed giggles threatening to explode at any given moment. I didn’t know why he was so excited, I only knew that I wanted to share this moment with him. I followed him into the kitchen.
“I want to show you something,” his voice whispered, still squeaking in that almost a man way.
He led me to a small space between the refrigerator and the counter. He pulled a mousetrap from between it, where a sandy brown ball of fur lay caught in its jaw. Shrieks rose the house.
“Ewwwww!! Get it away!! Gross!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!” My feet ran into the next room before my voice did, the mouse mere inches behind me. Three minutes and a hurricane later, his mother stepped out of her room. Another giggle emerged as she grabbed him by his hair, the only part of him she could catch, and he stopped.
“Donovan Emerson Manning! Stop chasing that girl and take that dead mouse OUT OF MY HOUSE right now!”
He was the first and only boy to ever show his undying love with the gift of a dead mouse. There would be more boys in the years to come, but none of them ever touched my heart or turned my stomach in quite the same way.