“Miriam! Come ON!” I mouthed the words intensely at my big sister, waiting for her to follow me towards the looming stone wall in front of us.
Barefoot, with chocolate smears on our cheeks, we crept along the outside of a tall stone wall towards a tree with low lying branches. I’d previously selected the tree and marked the dirt with an S.
X’s that “mark the spot” are for chumps. Or so I had thought.
I scrambled up the first few tree branches with ease, childish limbs mimicking monkey movements. Miriam followed, giving me her best “Sarah, we shouldn’t be doing this” face.
Couldn’t she see this was a mission? A mission to find out what was behind the stone wall!?
Dogs barked at the street kids playing soccer in the dirt. Glass bottles clinked together as the pop man (yes, that was his official title) replaced the empty crates outside our house with full crates of delicious carbonated beverages. The thought of Orange Crush from a glass bottle was enough to make me tip my head in distracted thought. Miriam’s rustling below brought me back to my senses, remembering the mission.
“Can you see anything?” She asked, a 50/50 mix of curiosity and skepticism in her voice.
“Hmpf. Too short.” I grunted.
Reading my mind, as sisters often do, she lifted herself up and climbed past me with a magical sort of grace. She’s always been like that. Far more graceful than I. Taller too. If only she would trade me some of her grace and height for some of my math skills like pokemon cards or pogs.
Placing her hands on the top of the wall, she hoisted herself up and out of sight. Eyes wide, I waited, the dramatic Jaws film score pouding inside my head. The world went silent. I was frozen in a half crouched, half extended, really awkward pose.
Seconds felt like minutes. In what felt like twenty minutes, but was really twenty seconds, Miriams face popped out over the edge of the wall.
“Well? You coming?” She asked, extending her hand.
Slightly disgruntled at the fact that she’d been the first to climb the wall, I grabbed her hand and walked my feet up the wall till I was high enough to hoist myself onto the ledge. It took me a minute to register that I was now on top of the stone wall and not still on the tree below.
I looked at Miriam. Her sweet little Miriam smile made me excited.
“What? What is it?” I said, eyes wide once more.
“Look.” She said, pointing down.
Turning my head felt like a slow motion sequence. Turning. Turning. Turning. And stop. (No hair flip necessary – my parents had given me what my mom said was a “darling” mushroom cut).
That’s when I saw it. The sight of it made me clutch at Miriam’s hand beside me, tugging ever so slightly in silent excitement. Liquid gold sunshine fell through the trees, landing on it in such a way, making it look magical.
In the far corner of the large property sat a house. It was peach coloured and looked lived-in. Between the house and our perch on the wall lay a cluster of trees and vines, and what may have been a haphazard attempt at a garden. Empty pop bottles and pieces of cardboard littered a corner of the “garden” and spilled into a small pond. The pond was directly below us.
Two objects floated in the pond: a pelican and a pedal boat.
Both pelican and pedal boat were beautiful. Beautiful and magical, and I found myself happily dazed.
“Giiiirrrrrlllsss. Time for supper.” Mom’s call for dinner broke my pelican induced daze.
Miriam glanced at me with a triumphant look on her face.
“Lets come back tomorrow.” She said.
We scampered back down the tree to the ground below, careful not to step on the S scratched into the dirt, and raced each other into the house for dinner.
Our adventure had been hugely successful. And the next would be even better. We’d befriend the pelican, feed it fruit and brush its feathers with our fingers, all the while enjoying a leisurely cruise around the pond in the pedal boat.
Best of all, no one would know but Miriam and I. Miriam and I and the pelican.