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'How Are the Mountains?'
A Brief Reunion With an Old Soul: 7/25/21
© 2021 James LaFond
It was little Emma's birthday party.
She turned six some two weeks past.
Now was the marshaling of her little friends and giant patrons.
Would he be there—he who she had been asking to see since he came back from the mountains?
He had sent her cards and checks and trinkets on many occasions, and lately they had been addressed from near rather than far places.
She kept asking when he would visit. She missed the adult that played with her and was interested in her gymnastics, the weird one who had been her “Pop,” when the real ones had long since passed.
Daddy was all gone.
Mommy had done good with Unx—but, he was “stupid,” in her little eyes, good for getting a big house, but unable to communicate with little ones. Moreover, Unx was afraid of the weird one and had kept him away.
She had her own bedroom, even her own play room—her equipment too. But MumMum, was away now, working somewhere. Mummum and her wandering friend where the only ones who played and watched her train. The other more junior grownups were all busy with their grownup stuff.
Finally they came—invited early, so Emma could have some MumMum time.
She stood on the stairs when they came in and Mommy said, “Emma, look who is here. It's MumMum and Jim.”
She knew, she could see, but was suddenly shy after all this while.
Emma stayed on the stairs, to the bedroom floor above, holding the railing, one foot alternately standing and the other stretching up to the middle landing behind her, doing her stretches. In her child's soul burned a desire to show off her abilities to the old.
The regular adults just didn't get it.
MumMum hugged her.
Then the tour of Mommy's new big house began and only Emma and old white-bearded Jim stood there.
She rocked her stretch out behind her.
“Good flexibility, Emma.” he said.
'Yes,' she grinned to herself, 'It's the real Jim, still him, hasn't gotten all stupid like the other grownups.'
Chandler, her dog, sniffed him and assured himself that this too was the old Jim, not some counterfeit.
He stood patiently, not bossy like the others.
'Yep, this is him.'
With a higher back-leg stretch she bounced and said with a coy inflection, “So, how are the mountains?”
“The mountains were very nice.”
“Did you go alone, or with big dogs.”
“Big dogs, mostly—sometimes alone.”
“Nice—I miss you Mom's dog, playing with that one on the stairs in you Mom's house.”
“I'm sure she misses you too. How are you, Emma?”
She did some butterfly squats and flourished her free hand, “Oh, dancing, singing some—reading— see...and trampoline! Wanna see?”
“Then let's roll!” Emma sang as she charged down the four little stairs, hit the bottom, placed her hand to her mouth and grinning whispered, “Oops, no running in Unx house—stupid rule number one!”
She then sneered and charged past the granite counter-top central sink that divided the dining room from the long kitchen and yelled, “Let's go, Chan!” as house-inspecting adult voices were heard coming up the stairs from the plush basement.
Out the sliding glass door onto the high deck she charged with her dog, Jim lagging behind, “Come on! Watch out for dog poop!”
By the time Emma was in the netted trampoline and Chandler was done running laps of excitement he was standing there with his hands behind his back, looking at her through his un-patched eye and she declared, “Pirate, I think! And guess who can jump higher than you! Look at me, Jim, jumping off a pirate ship...high into the high!”
After her moves, old and new, had been demonstrated, and her old, old friend commented, approved, and once gave her a tip on not straightening her elbow out so much to make it last longer, Emma was dripping in sweat.
The sliding glass door was heard above and MumMum was there smoking a cigarette, calling down, “Emma, lets get you something to drink before your guests come.”
“Okay, MumMum—and don't smoke! It takes ten years off your life!”
After drinks there was a special Jim-present-opening. The package was a bible case for her bible. Inside of that there was a fossil from California, lotions from nice hotels, real cowboy bandannas from a real cowboy, a compass for not getting lost, hotel pens, a rosary for her prayers, cowboy gum made the old way with licorice, hand warmers...and a hundred dollar bill!
Emma stopped and looked and then drummed her feet and said, “Wow—a hundred dollars! I'm rich! I'm rich!!” she screamed as she held the new crisp bill out behind her in her right hand and it fluttered like a wing as she ran in circles around Mommy's kitchen counter, darting between the legs of milling adults, in Unx's big house, where you weren't supposed to run.
But when you are rich bossy people fade into the back of one's mind.
When Emma was told by some distant adult voice not to run, she ran faster, making the bill flap, because she was rich and was having fun!
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