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My Cousins and I
I loved when my older cousins, Tiffany and Ben, visited. They were so much fun. Tiffany was four years older than me, and Ben was two years older, so I looked up to them. I thought they were so wise and always knew what they were talking about.
When they came up in the spring, we would go outside in the rain to splash in mud puddles. In the summer, my mother and Aunt Jamie took us to the beach. In the fall, Tiffany, Ben, and I raked the yard for fun and jumped in the leaf piles, and if we were lucky, Uncle John took us to Hennessey Farm to pick apples and watch the beautiful horses. In the winter, my cousins and I spent hours sledding down the hill in the backyard and having snowball fights until I got smacked in the face and Aunt Jamie yelled at the thrower. I had great times with my cousins.
But they always managed to get me in trouble . . . or hurt. When Tiffany and Ben decided to roll down the hill on their sides, I was the one who got my new white pants covered in grass stains, and their pants looked perfectly fine. When our baseball flew over the fence into my neighbor’s yard, I was the one sent over the fence to retrieve it; the one who got yelled at. When Tiffany and Ben convinced me into trying a cool trick on their scooter, I fell down on the pavement and skinned my knees. But I forgave them. They were so exciting to be with. I couldn’t miss out on the fun.
One October Saturday, when I was six, Aunt Jamie and Uncle John pulled into the driveway in the old pickup truck. Tiffany and Ben hopped out either side of the back seat, eagerly stretching their legs after the four-hour drive. I ran to meet them, overly enthusiastic as if I was seeing them for the first time in years.
“Hello Tiffany!” I said, giving my older cousin a big hug.
“Hey Annie. Good to see you,” she returned,
I hugged Ben as well, then Aunt Jamie and Uncle John.
My mother came out to greet the family. “Come on inside! I made pork and potato salad for lunch,” she said. We followed her into the house and ate a delicious meal while talking about the last few months since we’d seen each other.
Tiffany chattered on and on, telling me about everything. And I mean everything. “I painted my room green.” “I’m making a lot of new friends in school.” “I got pearl earrings for my birthday.” “My cat has gotten so big since the last time you saw her.” “My favorite black shoes don’t fit anymore.”
I tuned out after a while. Tiffany has a tendency to ramble on about nothing for hours, even if no one’s listening. What I was more concerned about was getting lunch over with and playing outside. What would we do today? Our usual autumn raking-and-jumping-in-piles routine? Or perhaps we’d go in the woods and hunt for acorns and pine cones. Maybe we could finish that fort we forgot about in July.
When everyone finished eating, Ben jokingly said, “What, no dessert, Aunt Emily?” to my mother. “Where are your sugar cookies?”
My mom almost always makes her famous sugar cookies when family visits, she just didn’t have the time this week.
“Sorry, Ben. No sugar cookies,” my mother said. “You’ll have to go without dessert.”
“Well, we need cookies,” Uncle John stated. “I’ll go to the market and get some.”
“Oh, that’s not necessary,” my mom told him. “The kids are fine.”
“I wasn’t thinking of the kids. I want a cookie.” Uncle John chuckled and patted his stomach. “I don’t mind going.”
“Do you even know where the store is?” Aunt Jamie asked.
“Yeah, it’s at the end of Deere Street, right?”
My mom nodded.
“Alright. I’m off the get some cookies!” Uncle John put on his jacket. “Where are the keys, Jamie?”
“I put them in the guest room. They’re in my purse.”
Uncle John left to get the keys to the truck. Tiffany looked quickly at me and pulled me towards the door. “Let’s go outside.”
I got up, automatically following her. There was a sense of hurry in her voice, and I didn’t know why.
Tiffany, Ben, and I flew out the door.
“What’s the rush?” Ben asked.
“I have a great idea!” Tiffany exclaimed. Her eyes danced with mischief. “Let’s hide in the back of the truck when Dad leaves.
“Why?” I said. It sounded like an awfully silly idea to me.
“Don’t ask why. It will be fun. Let’s go!”
I let my cousins corral me towards the truck. They seemed to think it would be great fun. Tiffany and Ben climbed into the back of the pickup truck and helped me get in. We laid down, totally noticeable as Uncle John got in the driver’s seat and backed out onto the road.
At first, I was having a good time. Tiffany and Ben were giggling and I felt very sneaky, like a spy. The wind in my hair felt great. Then I began to become afraid. What would my mom think when I had disappeared from the house? And then I became positive that we would fly out the back of the truck and get squashed in the road. Of course this would not happen, but I was six and had a wild imagination.
Suddenly, Tiffany sat up and looked around. “We’re getting near the main road. Let’s jump out!”
I was shocked. I couldn’t imagine jumping out of a moving vehicle. But Tiffany had already pulled Ben into her plan, so I felt I had no choice but to join in. My cousins crawled to the edge, the very back of the truck. They looked at the pavement speeding by underneath.
“I’ll go first,” Tiffany announced. She stood up shakily. I was terrified for her sake. Then, completely fearless, she leapt off the edge and landed on her feet. Ben followed right after his sister. He landed on his feet, but touched the ground with his hands.
Now I was the only one left in the back of the pickup. I watched my cousins becoming farther and farther away. They waved to me, motioning for me to jump. I was frozen with fear. I couldn’t jump. No way. But then I thought, what will Uncle John think when he gets to the market and finds me? And I was worried my cousins would think me to be a wimp.
So I jumped. And I hit my face. Hard.
My feet gave way when I hit the street, and I tumbled forward onto my face. My knees and arms got all scraped up, but my face was the worst. It got cuts in my forehead and right cheek. Little pebbles got stuck in the scrapes. Tiffany and Ben helped me up, and we slowly started the walk back home.
Crooks, South Dakota
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