By Harold N. Walters.
Eddie never before had seen a girl with white blonde hair. Nevertheless, when he saw one pirouetting in a red summer dress in his dead grandmother’s neglected rose garden he knew he wanted to chase her.
Not a single village girl had truly blonde hair. Not Eddie’s two older sisters. Not his slew of local girl cousins. Their hair shades varied from cropped-to-the-ears brown to stringy coal shovel black.
Familiar females considered, Eddie couldn’t be faulted for wanting to chase the girl with the white blonde hair; for wanting to chase her even though in his young boy’s mind he didn’t know why.
Anyway, Eddie didn’t linger to wonder why, he immediately jumped from the porch and ran to the hole in Granny’s picket fence.
“Here,” he said as he ducked through the gap and stood erect at the edge of the rose garden. “Here,” as if calling a dog.
The twirling white blonde hair spun to a stop, and the girl stared at Eddie, sizing him up. She grinned impishly for a second before she dashed out of sight around the corner of the house whose front window looked out into the rose garden.
“Here,” Eddie said and commenced the chase. “Here, hold on a minute.”
Fast as his sneakers could flatten rose garden grass, Eddie followed the girl’s path. He rounded the corner and skidded to a halt because the girl with the white blonde hair had vanished.
“Where?” Eddie said, a forlorn echo of here.
The house’s faded door was solidly closed. No quivering wood suggested the girl might have hurried inside.
Smothering a gasping breath, Eddie wondered if he’d been chasing a pixie, high-tailing after Tinker Bell. No one real could disappear like that. Could they?
Eddie stood baffled, his hands fiddling with erstwhile treasures in the pockets of his jeans—smooth pebbles, jewel-like saltwater glass, bent horseshoe nails and knotted bits of string.
Slowly he moved his head almost in a circle, like an owl, a moonlight raptor seeking fleeting prey. From right to left, nothing. From left to right, nothing. No sign of a red dress, no flash of streaming white blonde hair..
But after a minute or two—perhaps three—Eddie thought he heard a tinkle of Tinker Bell giggles.
Where? Where? Where?
“Hey,” he said, coaxing.
Eddie eyed a swatch of red no bigger than a robin’s breast flitting among the sun-dappled willow shrubs across the lane.
Oftentimes, Eddie had grabbed a handful of rocks and stalked robins when lured into action by one daring him from a branch or bough.
Now though, he didn’t stoop for rocks. He actually spilled some of his treasures when he whipped his hands from his pockets and commenced to pump his elbows like bellows as he bolted for the willows.
Eddie wanted to caress that white blonde hair more than he’d ever wanted to stroke a robin’s feathered wing—dead or alive.
Powered by mindless pre-pubescent hormones, Eddie crashed into the willow thicket only to discover that the flash of red had gone as if on robin’s wings. He almost said a bad word.
Faintly above his panting…tinkle, tinkle.
There, beyond the willow leaves, a sparkle of white…of white blonde hair?
Eddie was off again on his primal merry chase.
Round and round. Warp and weave. The girl with the white blonde hair, a budding femme fatale, towed Eddie through bushes and brambles, up hill and down dale, albeit on a miniature scale. Once or twice, perhaps three times, she allowed him to see her face full on peeping from leafy cover. When she did permit a glance, her whole temptress face smiled—lips and cheeks and eyes.
Seeing a taunting smile, Eddie galloped all the harder, until his feet hurt and his knees ached; until his blood roared, his chest pained and his heart almost burst.
Thirty minutes passed. Or forty-five. Perhaps an entire hour.
Eventually, the girl with the white blonde hair teased Eddie within earshot of the stream that gurgled through the woods half a mile from the rose garden where the chase had begun.
Eddie froze when he broke from the trees and saw a bundle of red dress and white blonde hair piled in a comfortable curl in the sunshine on the grassy bank of the tinkle-tinkling stream.
He fair steamed from exertion. He flopped to his knees an arm’s length from his enchantress.
“Wait,” he said, after the fact.
The red and white bundle began to tremble as if suppressing a sneeze, or perhaps a tinkle, tinkle giggle.
What?” Eddie said, reaching out.
While the brook, as brooks are want to do, babbled, while clouds played chase with the sun, the girl with the white blonde hair turn around to face Eddie.
I know you. You’re Eddie,” she said.
Eddie’s eyes widened as if he’d met a pixie princess or perhaps a white blond Siren, although he didn’t know the word.
“Yes,” he said.
“I’m Viola,” said the girl with the white blonde hair, showing Eddie a glimpse of feral teeth.
Lynx teeth! flashed in Eddie’s mind a second before…
…the girl, her white blonde hair whipping his face, flung her arms around his neck in famished greeting.
HAROLD WALTERS lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that?