“-nessa! Vanessa dear! It’s time to come inside!”
Several houses away from her home, Vanessa sat on the memorial bench that had been placed outside of the vacant home at the end of the block. It had been two years since the passing of the resident inside, two years that might as well have been lifetimes to the young girl. She had very little memory of the old man who had once lived inside, but she did remember that he had once crafted wonderful things for his friends.
She also remembered that she had been his friend as well, and while she no longer played with it, the unfinished ballerina continued to ever remind her of the kindness he had shown her and the other children in her community.
“Vaaaanesssa! Come on dear! Your dinner awaits!”
Of all the other children, she was the only one who remembered where her gift had come from. While they were playing the latest expansions of their favorite computer games, she began to follow in the footsteps of the veteran who had once kept a watchful eye over their community. Every free moment of sunlight, whether after school, during the weekends or over breaks, she walked the sidewalks just as he had done in her father’s stories. She stopped and talked to each of her neighbors with a much higher maturity than any of her peers, and often found herself in conversations about the more worldly things in life.
Sometimes she helped out when she could, picking up trash, sweeping the sidewalks or raking up leaves. Over the last two summers, Vanessa Rowen became a familiar and welcome sight among those who lived down Bryer Street way, and everybody loved the little girl whose heart was bigger than most of the other children her age.
“Coming mommy,” she finally hollered in response as she stood up and brushed off dress. Her mother smiled and waved before going back into their house and with one sad look over her shoulder, she pondered the meaning of the “For Sale” sign that now adorned the lawn of ole man Dryden’s house, and the “SOLD” sticker that was plastered over it.