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From the Land of the All Season Lawn Chair
It wasn't any secret in the small town that Leigh Boyd was a single mother. After all, you couldn't just come waltzing into a place like Nolan, Vermont eight months pregnant, without a man by your side and just expect people not to talk.
It was absurdity.
But Leigh wasn't stupid, and she knew exactly what the bored wives of Nolan spoke about on sunny days while hanging their laundry and wrangling their children. She was legend by her third week there, not that she minded the attention at all. She was a bubbly girl of twenty five who loved to chatter with people, and was generally well liked by those who weren't scandalized by her.
When Leigh went into labor, almost the entire community crammed themselves into Community Reach hospital, gossiping and waiting for news on the latest town tableau.
“Well Geoffory tells me that she was married once, but divorced the man three months in.” Sniffed Mary Lloyd “I mean honestly. What kind of girl does that?”
“Oh, I don't know.” Sighed Dorothy Greene, pulling out a cigarette and lighting up “I thought of divorcing Calvin when I first married him. Not that I acted on it, heaven forbid.” She pulled the stick from her cherry red lips and exhaled the smoke slowly “These new-age girls. Thinking it's all about love.”
“Love.” Sighed Rita Kepp “Isn't it just such a wonderful idea?"
“Yes, idea.” Mary pointed out stiffly, pulling out her own cigarette case. “A marvelous theory. But not true to fact. You have to wait for love, and by the time you find it, heaven knows how old you'll be!"
“Old enough to be a spinster, no doubt!” Chimed Elise Lane “Goodness, what a dreadful idea.” The room was filled with bitter laughter from the four women, though it was killed out by the chatter of the rest of the town.
Lotte and Lily Boyd were born on that hot September afternoon in Community Reach hospital, the entire town in the room waiting for their arrival.
Years went by, and soon the fifties transcended into the sixties. The little Vermont town had not changed much, but the scandle of the Boyd family had since died down into a dull conversation topic when gossip was slow. The housewives had moved on to bigger and better tales to tell behind the gauzy sheets and linens on hot summer's mornings, and as for Lily and Lotte, well, they grew up. The story begins- really begins- on St. Joseph street in the winter of the twin's eleventh year- 1961.
It had been tough bringing together all of the neighborhood children, Marguerite and Malcolm Hammond, Bethy and Bobby Kepp, Emmett and Paul Greene; Julie, James and Jude Bennett; Gracie and Russell Lane together in one place. Lily and Lotte had spent hours visiting house after house and requesting to 'borrow' their children. Only Helen Lloyd had been unable to come, on account of Mrs. Lloyd not trusting Lotte or her children.
“Sorry.” Helen mumbled, a sheepish look crossing her features “I'll come next time, I swear it.”
And so, the whole lot of them in their winter pinafores and corduroys joined in the icy lanes of St. Joesph street.
“Why don't we take a walk down to Montague park and ride the carousel?” Suggested Bethy Kepp “It's only about a block from here.”
“Our mom wants us to stay on this street.” Protested Emmett“I have to look after Paulie.” He gestured weakly to the six year old red head at his side.
“What about Red Rover?” Said Marguerite “We can play it in the street.”
“Nah. The streets are too icy. Mom says that I'll break my neck if we play it during winter.” Commented Jude, “Why not capture the flag?”
“That sounds great.” Chimed Julie, clapping her hands together and straightening out her tartan pinafore. “I'm all for it.”
The rest of the kids agreed that capture the flag was a wonderful idea, and thus set into the task of picking teams. In the end, one ended up with Julie, Marguerite, Lotte, Paulie, Emmett and Bethy and the other consisted of Jude, Malcolm, Lily, James, Jude, Russell, Gracie and Bobby.
“Alright!” Announced Russell, the oldest one in the group by two years “Once everyone is on their side, and has hidden their flag, we can begin! Remember, you are behind enemy lines when you go past Mr. Hammond's Grey Ford.” He gestured to the Ford parked on the street outside the Hammond residence. “Begin!” And with that, snow crunched under foot of about fourteen excited children.
Time found Lotte and Emmett crouched in the snow behind Mrs. Greene's old house, forming snow balls for ammunition against their enemies.
Emmett was an awkward thirteen year old boy with red hair and thick glasses that were constantly riding down on his nose. He reached up every few minutes to push them back up between snowballs, a twitch that did not go un-noticed by his companion.
“Shouldn't you get a new pair?” Asked Lotte, setting aside her own ball to peer over at his face.
“What?” He looked at her, and once again pushed up his specs. She, in turn, reached a mitten-clad hand over to move his earmuff out of the way.
“I said, shouldn't you just get a new pair of specs?”
“Why? I like these.”
“But they're too big for your nose.” He gave her a strange glance, and shook his head.
“No. I think my nose is just to small for my specs.” As he said this, they slowly descended the rosy slope of his nose, his eyes narrowed, and Emmett reached up to preform the necessary action. Lotte, however, beat him too it. She reached up and slid the frame up so it settled in it's right place on the bridge of his nose, and patted his cheek softly.
“There. All better.” Emmett blushed and turned away, continuing the tedious task.
Lily Boyd hopped over the lawn chair that the Hammonds' never bothered to put away, no matter the season, and made a dash to where Marguerite was standing guard to the makeshift flag (A pillowcase from Mrs. Kepp's hamper that Bethy had gotten)
“Are you Lily or Lotte?” Marguerite asked sharply as Lily approached, taking a step in front of the linen and folding her arms. She tried her best to look menacing, narrowing her frosty blue eyes and puffing out her pudgy cheeks. A thick crease formed on her forehead, giving her the appearance of an angry blow fish.
“Lotte, of course.” Lily said in her best 'duh' voice, even rolling her eyes for good measure. “I thought you'd be able to tell us apart by now.” Marguerite still looked skeptical, but her stature slackened considerably and her arms fell limply to her sides.
“Of course I'm able to tell you two apart.” She sniffed “Only dummies can't. Malcolm can't.” Lily nodded her head in mock sympathy.
“Mmmhmm. Russ told be to come help you guard- can I...?” She gestured with her head that Marguerite should move so she could join in. After a few seconds the confused youth acquiesced and scooted to the side, giving Lily an ample window to lunge forward and snatch up the pillowcase.
“HEY!” Shouted an outraged Marguerite, but she hadn't even gotten the first syllable out before the daring fugitive was on the run.
Lily huffed and kept her eye on the fence that she had had to jump to get to the flag. Precious Prize clutched in her sweaty fist, she leaped onto the plastic chair and bounced off again, closely followed by the irritated girl.
“What's going on?” Lily heard Julie's hesitant voice emerging from behind the house, a gasp, and then the sound of running as she joined the pursuit. Dread washed over her as she realized that in her hunky winter clothes, she would not be able to scramble up the fence quick enough to get away from agile Julie.
Faced with the prospect of losing the flag that she had lied so hard to obtain, and knowing that she was darting too fast to stop now, Lily adjusted her angle quickly so her shoulder was directly facing the fence, and charged on.
As she made shoulder-on contact with the old, flimsy wood, Lily let out a brief shriek of pain, and then surprise as the decaying structure gave under the force and plummeted to the ground, taking the girl with it.
“Goodness! Lily!” She heard Marguerite call, and Julie's gasp of terror as they stepped around her flaccid body. “Julie, go get Lotte.” She said, waving her hand to the vague direction of Mrs. Greene's yard. Julie set off immediately.46
“She's bleeding, Russ! Her forehead is bleeding!” Panicked Lotte as she touched her maroon gloves to the respectable gash on Lily's forehead. The distraught and groggy girl flinched, looking around at the nine children who surrounded her. She was currently reclining on the Hammonds' ever present chair, pressing her hand against her forehead to keep it from bleeding out.
“Who's house is closest?”
“Marguerite and Malcolm's!"
“No way! Mom'll faint if she sees that much blood!”
“Jude, Julie and James's.”
“Mom 'n dad 'l womp us good if they find out someone got hurt while we were playing!”
“We could just take them back to their house.”
“Yeah. I'll walk her home.” Lotte said, taking her twin's hand and helping her up “It's been swell. We'll try it again next time.” With a nod in the direction of her befuddled companions, she was off.
“Oh, my Goodness! Oh, darling, what's happened to your forehead? Why can't you move your shoulder?”
“I'm fine, ma.”
“Don't you be vague with me, Lilian Boyd!”
“Just a little bruised up ma, I swear it.”
“Thats it. If you don't tell me, I'll have to find out myself. Lotte, go get my bag. We're going to see Dr. Fowler.”
“No, ma! Here, I'll show you...”
“Oh, my Goodness, quick, cover it up again! Lotte, hurry with those keys!”
Dr. Ernest Fowler wrinkled his nose as he scrutinized Lily's frightened stature. Lotte sat with her on the exam table, holding her twin's hand as they both scrutinized back.
“Young lady, I'll need you to remove your hand from your forehead.”
“Nah. Nope. There's nothing interesting behind my hand.”
“Then you won't mind moving it.”
“Cantcha just take my word for it?” He gave her a hard look and she sighed, slowly dropping her now blood stained hand from her forehead.
“Oh, my. That is an impressive wound.” Dr. Fowler muttered, mostly to himself as he prodded around the cut with one latex-clad finger. “Not too deep. Not deep enough to warrant stitches...however, there is the possibility of a nasty scar. We'll put a bandage over it to see if it helps, but I wouldn't hope.” Leigh, who was sitting in the background, let out a tremendous sigh as she gave her two children incredulous looks.
“How long will she have the scar, Dr. Fowler?” She queried.
“It all depends.” Ernest replied as he tended to the gash “At this point, I really can't tell.”
After three winters, Lily's scar had healed and she was no longer teased for the bright pink gash marring her forehead. It was unclear who was to go under blame, but Marguerite being the original pursuer always felt just a little bit guilty.
In spring, Mr. Hammond fixed up that old flimsy fenceboard with an expensive one that was deep brown, unlike the others that were faded tan. Never once did it not occur to him how absolutely different it looked.