Before We Were Strangers

Written by: Michaela Kathleen

Date: May 2016

Length: 1, 113 words

Grandma used to tell us a story about the children she used to know. Parker was just like one of the boys or at least that’s what Jax had always told her. She was seven and he was nine and their daddies would joke about the two of them growing up and falling in love. He would run away yelling something about girls having cooties and she would roll her eyes. She was always a little more mature. They made mud pies and sold them to their moms’ for a dollar because back then a dollar could buy you a horse, a castle and a candy mountain on the side. She held his hand when he had to get a flu shot because even knights in shinning armour need a little help sometimes. He taught her how to pump her legs so fast on the swings that she touched the sky with her toes at recess. They spent hours in her tree house in the backyard by the stream talking about whatever it is children talk about until the sun went down and he had to go home.

She was nine and he was eleven. She read three books a week while he lived and breathed soccer. She watched his practice on the bleachers and he’d walk her home and their daddies would joke about the two of them growing up and falling in love. They sat in her tree house in the backyard by the stream and she listened intently about his soccer games and he listened to her babble about what book she just finished until the sun went down and he had to go home.

She was eleven and he was thirteen with the world at their feet and their heads in the clouds. She was quiet and he was loud. They were as different as night and day but their daddies still joked about them growing up and falling in love. They spent hours in her tree house in the backyard by the stream talking about her latest boyband obsession and his latest crush on some girl in grade ten until the sun went down and he had to go home.

She was thirteen and he was fifteen. She had her first heartbreak and he made her hot chocolate for four mini marshmallows, that’s the only way she’d drink it. Their daddies used to joke about the two of them growing up and falling in love. They spent hours in her tree house in the backyard by the stream as she cried and he listened until the sun went down and he had to go home.

She was fifteen and he was seventeen and she wasn’t the little girl he used to see. She wrote for the school paper and he played for the school’s soccer team. She wrote about the gross cafeteria food and he brought home the championship trophy. Their daddies used to joke about the two of them; they never knew they’d really fall in love. They spent hours in her tree house in the backyard by the stream where he whispered sweet nothings in her ear until the sun went down and he had to go home.

She was seventeen and he was nineteen and they weren’t the same kids they used to be. Her friends called him a stupid jock, she didn’t stop them and his friends joked about her in the locker room, he didn’t stop them. She bonded with her writing and he bonded with his team mates. They used to spend hours in her tree house in the backyard by the stream. She stayed there until the sun went down but he never showed.

She was nineteen and he was twenty-one. She was graduating and he was off playing soccer for some minor soccer league. She was moving on and he was too committed to the game to remember the girl he left behind. But every night before she went to sleep, she would spend hours in her tree house in the backyard by the steam and reminisce about the times when they counted stars and talked about dreams.

She was twenty-one and he was twenty-three. She was a sport journalist for the Toronto Sun and he read a story about his team by the little girl he used to spend hours with in her tree house in the backyard by the stream and their daddies used to joke about the two of them growing up and falling in love.

She was twenty-three and he was twenty-five, she was a famous author now with book signings in every city and he started coaching the little league soccer team in their hometown. She would come back to visit every other month and sometimes he’d see her around and they’d share a head nod or a smile but they never stopped to talk. Idle chit chat is useless when there are two broken hearts involved. They were both too proud to admit they should have talked it out instead of walking away. They used to think about that, him with a beer at the local bar and her in her tree house in the backyard by the stream.

She was twenty-seven and he was he twenty-nine. She was engaged to a local newspaper editor and he received his wedding invitation in the mail. She was still one of the boys to him but she was also his first and only love. He went to see her one time at her mama’s house. He found her in the backyard by the ladder of the tree house by the stream. He asked where they went wrong, she told him she believed they were meant to be together but they went about it the wrong way. He told her he never stopped loving her and he’d continue to love her even when he shouldn’t, even when she is happily married with the editor and expecting their first baby girl, he would still love her. He kissed her cheek, wiped a tear and disappeared. She never saw him again but she replayed that night in her head when she watched the diamond in her ring glitter off of the moonlight in her tree house in the backyard by the stream.

Grandma used to tell us the story about two kids who fell in love, who’s daddies used to joke about the two of them and never dreamed that they would be torn apart. I would think about Parker and Jax when I spent hours in my Grandma’s tree house in the backyard by the stream until the sun went down and I had to go home.

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