by Masika Samms
Nine-year-old Gena was to handle the money. Seven-year-old Frankie was to, carefully, bring back the bread. Under my watchful eye, Gena counted the change, placed it in the little purse and the purse into her jean's pocket.
I continued my instructions while they put on their coats.
"Gena," I said, "don't forget to ask how much the bread costs, look at the little window in the cash register, subtract that amount from what you give him and COUNT YOUR CHANGE."
I placed my hands on Frankie's shoulders, trying to calm him down for his first trip (Gena's second) to the store without an adult along.
"Don't mess with any dogs," I continued, "don't ran off from each other, dodt go near any cars, ESPECIALLY if they've got somebody in'em. Gena, count your change! Frankie, don't mash the bread! And be careful crossing the street! Ya'll got all that?"
I escorted them out of the back door and stood watching them from the window.
Outside, Frankie quickly took the lead, making Gena have to run a little to catch up. He opted to bypass the field's clear areas and crossed over the icy spots. Gena hurried right behind him.
Frankie slid, slipped and fell.
When she reached him, Gena stood over him, gesturing wildly. She reached down and helped him up by his elbow.
He accepted her assistance the rest of the way across the ice.
The moment they reached the safety of the shoveled and salted sidewalk, they instantly released each other. But, they stayed together ... at least until they passed some hedges that blocked my view.
I came away from the window and waited.
I realized then, that neither had turned to look back.