FTLComm - Tisdale - October 14, 2000
The huge farm yard with its complex equipment and vehicles was deserted except for two skinny orange cats and child sitting on the sidewalk between the farm house and the shop. I turned the van slowly in the yard as I looked around for signs of life and stopped. The child was a little girl around four feet talk with long brown hair, little wire glasses and a face from a TV commercial. She wore a yellow sweater over her shoulders like a shawl and as she came around to my door I opened it but did not undo my seat belt.
Her question to me was direct and inquiring, she wanted to know if I was here to see her dad and I said I was looking for the owner. Then I noticed the swollen lips and red eyes and I asked her why she had been crying. The eyes filled and tears rolled down her cheeks as she said she was waiting for her daddy. She had been here for twenty minutes and she didn’t know where he was.
I assured her that he would come and that he must have been held up for a few minutes and, to stop her crying, I tried to engage her in some conversation.
“What is your last name?” I asked and she stifled her tears to tell me the name of the owner of the farm. “Oh, this is your father’s farm then?”
She nodded and regained her composure.
“So where is your mom?” as soon as I asked it I realised it was not the right question.
“She is in town.”
“So your mom lives in town and your father here on the farm?”
“Yes” she said “I was to go with a friend but I took the other bus.” Her face showed she was very upset.
“So you were to bring a friend home with you but didn’t?” she nodded as she scooped up one of the skinny orange cats. “What is your first name?”
“Oh what a great name, Avery I really like that.”
“Avery Rose.” she repeated.
“What grade are you in?”
I kept her talking, which wasn’t hard, as she was a great little conversationalist as she told me her teacher’s name, then how she had kittens and how there were in the house and would I come and see them. I explained that I could not do that as I wanted to stay in the van and not present a threat to her, or encourage her to be any more friendly to a stranger than seemed polite. As she talked of the kittens she told me there were only three and that her daddy had killed the others, this in turn generated another flood of tears. I said she was very tall for a grade one and she said she was the shortest person in her class. It seemed that she was not having a good day and I asked her how was her day at school and she said she had had a good day but did not have any plans for the weekend when I asked her what she was going to do tomorrow.
Then a phone rang in the shop and she told me she must answer it and dashed off. At this point I got out of the van and a car drove into the yard. I greeted the cheerful lady who emerged from the car and asked her if she was Avery’s mom and she said she was, but clearly, either she misunderstood, or I had somehow asked the wrong question, as this lady was far to old to be the mother of this little girl. I explained to her that the little girl had been crying and pointed out that she was in the shop on the phone. She went in and intercepted the phone and Avery came back out.
She went to get in the lady’s car but the lady explained that she could not go with her, indicating that there was some provisions that prevented her from giving her a ride. I said my goodbyes gave the lady my card and said I would drop back and see the owner another day.
The lady explained she had so many things to do, an appointment in another town tonight some errands to run and now she would have this (pointing to Avery) to look after. Somehow, I could not share the lady’s problem and I drove off feeling very troubled by the incident.
No one likes to see a little girl cry and she had been truly heartbroken that her father was not there for her. I tried to put it behind me and made my way back into town to catch a picture or two, then decided that it was still bothering me and I went over the elementary school. With in a few minutes I had found Avery’s teacher who was an old friend and I told her my story about her little pupil.
The teacher explained that indeed Roberta’s mom had sent a note that Avery was to come home with Roberta and she was concerned as to why the little girl had taken the wrong bus. Indeed her father would not have expected her as he would have known of the visit Avery was to have with her friend Roberta. It seems that Avery’s mom and dad had gone their separate ways and the little girl lived with her mom during the week and on weekends was with her father.
The teacher was as concerned as I and called Roberta’s mother to sort out the problem. As it turned out, Avery did not take the wrong bus. The little six year old had boarded the bus her friend went on and the bus driver suspected that the little girls had cooked up a plot and insisted that Avery go on the bus she regularly took on Friday nights. So it was that she arrived at her father’s farm and was there alone.
|Timothy W. Shire|
|(The little girls’ names are not their real names.)|