“You’re really pretty,” she said.
“My mom said that sometimes life is harder for pretty people.”
“Maybe it is, sometimes,” he agreed.
“She said people can love you for your looks and not for who you are.”
“I suppose that’s true.”
“My mom is really pretty too, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom.”
“I believe you,” he said smiling.
“What’s your name?”
“Todd. What’s yours?”
Her shoulders drooped. “Do I have to tell you?”
“No. Of course not,” he said, quickly. “But, realistically, how bad can it be?”
“Pretty bad. Especially when you’re almost seven.”
“Maybe you should use a nickname.”
“I do. It’s Kat.”
“That’s nice. I like it.”
“My real name is Revenge,” she sighed, loudly
She nodded. “My mom said that way, no one will ever bother me because they’ll be terrified that I’ll go after them if they do anything I don’t like. She’s right, you know. A boy in school took my jumprope but he gave it back when I stared at him and seemed to grow in size, like a Halloween cat. He dropped it and ran away.”
“Understandable,” he said, smiling.
“My mom said females have to set boundaries right away, so that’s what I did. Is it hard being as pretty as you are?”
“No. Not at all,” he laughed. “But you’ll know all about that when you get a little older. You’re beautiful already”
“No,” she said, tilting her head to one side. “I think I’m about average.”
“You’re far from average. Believe me. I know about these things.”
“Well, thank you.”
“Are you a good person?” she asked, looking into his eyes.
He thought for a moment and said, “I think so. At least I try to be.”
She nodded. “It’s not always easy to be a good person, especially when no one can tell you what a good person is.”
“THAT is so true,” he said. “We really don’t know what being a good person means.”
“Do you like cats?”
“Yes. I have a cat named Blondie. She’s pitch black.”
“I have a kitten named Meepers. She’s named after a hamster my mom had when she was a kid.”
“That’s a good name for a kitten,” he said.
“Are you going to be a movie star?”
“Never crossed my mind,” he said, chuckling. “Not even for a minute.”
“I bet you’d be a great one and you wouldn’t even have to do anything. You could just sit there and people would love you, because you’re so pretty.”
“Well, it’s good to know what type of people you’re interested in. When you grow up, you can look for someone who looks like me.”
“I think all the girls will want someone who looks like you, and that would be too much stress for me. I mean Britney likes William, but all the girls, except for me that is, like William, and she’s always afraid he’ll like some one else. He has a lot of choices, you see.”
“Why don’t you like him?”
She shrugged. “I think he’s mean and he’s not cute, even a little.” She made a gagging face. “Know what I’m saying?”
He smiled. “I do, and I think you are going to have a great life.”
“Do you have a great life?”
He leaned against the brick wall and took a drag off his cigarette. “Sometimes.”
“Are you in love with someone?”
He took another moment, then said, “No. I’m not. But, if you want to see a beautiful person be real quiet and turn around. Look at her. Beauty, confidence and strength, all rolled up into one person.”
She turned around and stared. Then she waved. “Hi mom,” she shouted.
The woman changed directions and started walking toward them.
“Revenge, darling, who is this man?”
“His name is Todd and I really like him. He’s nice and even though he’s pretty, he’s not at all conceited. He has a cat named Blondie. She’s pitch black.”
“Of course she is,” she said. “My name is Lacy. I see you’ve already met my daughter.”
“I have. She’s very intelligent and has a great attitude.”
“She’s also an excellent judge of character, even though I tell her every single day, not to talk to strangers.”
“He’s not strange at all, Mom. “He nice.”
He looked down and tried not to laugh.
“Did she invite you to dinner?”
“I didn’t have time,” said Revenge, looking at him. “Sorry. I forgot my manners.”
He bent down. “You have nothing to be sorry for. You don’t even know me,” he said. “Don’t ever invite a stranger into your home. It’s far too dangerous.”
“It’s just dinner,” said Lacy. “It’s not a big deal. Besides I have a gun, and I know how to use it. So, if you’re not on your way somewhere, we’re having vegetarian chili mac and salad.”
“And ice cream,” said Revenge.
“And Ice cream,” said Lacy.
He smiled. “I’d love to join you for dinner. Thank you.”
“It’s this way,” said Lacy, letting him take the bags from her hands. “You’re really pretty,” she chuckled.
“So are you,” he whispered.
“I’m just average,” she said, watching Revenge do a cartwheel.
“Not even close,” he muttered.
“We’ll have cookies too,” said Revenge, skipping up to them.
He turned to Lacy. “What kind of cookies?”
“Chocolate chip and Oreo’s, what else?”
“Perfect,” he said.
Picture: Austin Wade