Something bad had happened recently happened to one of her daddy’s friends, but as it was most other times, it was about something her parents would not tell her. Like every other situation they didn’t want her to know the details, they said they would tell her when she was older.
She felt like they still treated her as if she was fragile, as if she couldn’t handle the woes of the real world, but what they seem to forget is that she had survived the sadness which came after Sammy’s passing. He had been her friend when the other children her age would not, had offered her advice when she needed it, and protected her when her family wasn’t around. He had been like a grandfather to her, but his final lesson to her had been about the harsh realities that come with growing older.
Her head was often in the clouds. She enjoyed the worlds she immersed herself in, this much was true, but she was also intuitive enough to know when something was terribly wrong.
The morning when she first noticed her parents change in behaviour, strange cars began filling the driveway of the Robinson’s house. Before long, they were parked out against the curbs and even so far as a couple of houses down the street!
In the few fleeting moments that she saw Mrs. Robinson, she was usually crying, and she was never without the company of one of her visitors. It got so that she began to feel uncomfortable playing at the edge of her sidewalk, so she moved further down the street from where the activity was heaviest. More specifically, she sat on the walkway leading up to the Burman’s home, the house of a nice older couple who only lived there in the summer.
It had been a couple of weeks since their lawn service had been through, but she didn’t mind, not one bit. Not only could she create a jungle scenario for which her toys could play in, but it also gave her plenty of cover to remain unnoticed. In addition to the overgrowth, the walkway was lined with small hedges, each also suffering from neglect. With her back against them, and the tall grass before her, she was all but invisible to everyone.
All except for one.
“Hello Vanessa,” came a cheery voice from behind her.
“Oh!” she exclaimed.
“I’m sorry, did I startle you,” came the concerned response.
“No, I just didn’t see you there, is all.”
Andy stepped out from around one of the hedges, a warm smile on his face, and with his hands behind his back.
“You look very pretty today,” he said as he moved them towards her in offering.
“Thank you,” she said innocently. “What is that,” she asked when she saw the small gift in his hand.
“Oh, just something you might like. Something I made. Just. For. You.”
She squealed, excited that he knew her favorite cookie was chocolate chip, and in seconds she was stuffing it in her mouth.
“That’s right,” he said with a wolfish look in his eyes. “Eat it all up.”