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Cousin Kyle


Kyle, my cousin, was a troubled kid. He was my fathers’ sisters’ son. I don’t know why he was troubled, and I don’t know what he did, but I do remember the summer I met Kyle.

He came to stay with us for a few months. I was so excited to have a new body in the house! “Someone new to play with,” was the first thought in my mind. I didn’t realize that my cousin was 16 and I was 5. He wasn’t interested in playing with me. He wanted to go smoke nasty smelling paper things out behind the bushes. I stayed away from him when he went there. I remembered those bushes all too well. I knew what people did when they went to hide behind bushes.

I wanted to impress my cousin; make him think I would be fun to play with. Maybe then he wouldn’t want to hide behind the bushes with his burning rolls of paper. I loved the swings. I played often on the playground and had calluses that would make a professional gymnast proud. Still, my favorite things at the playground were the swings. I used to lie on them on my stomach and swing back and forth, pretending I was Superman. The day I decided to impress my cousin, I really did impress him, but not the way I had planned.

I took off running toward the swings, arms over my head as if in a diving position. Suddenly, about 2 feet from the swing I was aiming at, I soared into the air. For a split second I felt like I was flying. Then I landed. Not with my stomach making contact with the swing, but rather with my head making a stunning, sickening thud when it contacted with the sand underneath. My legs hung limply over the swing, my butt in the air. I had soared right over the swing completely and landed on my skull on the other side.

Kyle and my brother both came racing over, asking me if I was ok. Once I could get the dirt out of my mouth, I grunted that I was all right. I claimed that it didn’t hurt at all, and even got up to show Kyle the cautious way to do the Superman, forcing back tears the whole time. Kyle marveled at how tough I was not to cry at landing directly on my noggin.

Kyle had to suddenly go home one day. I remember coming in the house with my mom yelling at him. I wanted to stay out of the whole thing, so I tip toed upstairs to my room. On the way I smelled a funny odor coming from the bathroom. It smelled like the funny smell my nose sensed every time Kyle went behind the bushes. I had never smelled it in the house before, except on Kyle’s clothes. I figured that was why mom was mad a Kyle. Years later, I found out I was right. Kyle never came to visit again.

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