Carson had been making plans all week. They all walked up the path to Mrs. Green’s house on Friday night ready to celebrate the last day of school. They walked around the side yard past the willow tree, into the back yard and read the sign, written in Carson’s handwriting. It read,
Summer does not begin until you take off your shoes!
One by one they took off their shoes. Juliette was the first to comply, once her mother read the sign for her. She tossed off her sandals and ran through the grass laughing and waving her arms like a bird. Mike, Steve, Evelyn, and Sue followed after her. They did not have to be asked twice. Mr. and Mrs. Green had already been given their instructions before the sign was up. They helped Carson, his parents, and his sister Karen, who was home from college, set everything up way back in the lot and under the climbing tree, in their bare feet.
Carson was excited. He was in his element as the leader of the night and gave everyone instructions.
“First you have to come over to the big cooler; my dad will help you pick a drink.” Inside the cooler were mason jars. Carson decided on two drinks for the evening blueberry lemonade that was ice cold and deep purple, and iced chocolate mocha with whipped cream on top. His mom made sure everyone knew Carson had made everything all by himself.
Once everyone had their drinks Carson sent them over to the hammocks. In the holes in the netting Carson had placed big plastic cups. He had tied strings on either side of the cup so you could wear it around your neck like a plastic cup necklace. His sister Karen served big helpings of Carson’s favorite dish, macaroni and cheese with bacon. She explained,
“Carson wanted to make sure everyone was able to eat with their hands free so we can all climb up the climbing tree.”
Everyone was so impressed and complimentary. It seemed to transform Carson. He was conducting an experiment to see if everyone noticed the gifts he knew he had within himself. Carson was very clever and a natural born leader. With the encouragement of his friends he took control of the evening like a ring leader in a circus, “Once you have your macaroni and cheese necklace come on up into the climbing tree.”
It was quite a sight to see when Sylvia and Sam popped in unannounced. They saw dangling bare feet up in the climbing tree and a happy group eating macaroni and cheese with bacon out of plastic cup necklaces. Carson jumped down and served up two more cups and gave them each a mason jar. They quickly took off their shoes and joined the party.
After they were full and their thirst was quenched they felt a sprinkle or two. Everyone looked at Carson and his reaction reassured them.
“It’s just water, and water won’t hurt you.”
Carson said it with such confidence the rain itself seemed to hear him and obey. The clouds rolled out just in time for games. The three legged race was hysterical, Mrs. Green could not stop laughing long enough to get across the lawn. Ampersand kept barking and running circles around everyone. Mike was the best at balancing a cup of ice cold water on his head. Sam was the champion of the water balloon toss and Carson told him he was allowed to go first in the dessert line. The last race was a Carson original. Each guest was given a pair of black tights. In the bottom of each leg Carson had placed a water balloon. Carson demonstrated the game to great delight of his friends and uproarious outbursts of laughter,
“You have to put the tights on your head.” Carson placed the tights over his head and brushed the legs back over his shoulder as if he had two long flowing braids. The outbursts of laughter just egged Carson on.
“Now when I say go, run around the yard and try to burst everyone’s water balloon” Carson began to run and everyone joined him. It was quite a sight to see the group chasing each other in the Green’s yard with tights on their heads and water balloon legs flying everywhere.
The evening went on after dark with a fire by the stream, a multiplication sing a long and ice cream Sundays in more plastic cup necklaces. Carson was in his element and happier than any of them had ever seen him. Carson changed Friday night. His footing was stronger and he was reminded of who he knew he was all along.
Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015
Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.