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A Caribbean Story – Over the Wall (written by Tamu Petra Browne)

“I hate hanging clothes on the line”, I mumbled under my breath, careful that my mother did not hear me. She had the ears of the wind – everywhere all at once.

“So do I.” I stopped, shocked – clothespin squeezed.  Was that a voice I heard? Perhaps the mango yellow sun was so hot, that I was hearing things. I wandered over to the chipped greying wall near the pink hibiscuses the color of my favorite church dress.

I stood still, barely breathing. I strained my ears to hear until I was sure they would jump off my head. I willed my eardrums to block the thumping sounds of one neighbor’s reggae beats blasting through the air, the other’s television turned up on a million, listening to the excited cricket commentators.

It was in vain. I did not hear the voice again. Back to the line I go, clothespins pinching the edge of my T shirt. As I swayed to the thumping beats from my neighbor’s sound system, I began thinking that the voice came from the mystery neighbor opposite my clothes line. The house was hidden behind huge golden apple and breadfruit trees, swollen pawpaws and happy mango trees filled with fruit. All so thick they almost blocked the sky and surely blocked any view of the house and people inside.

“Hmmmmmm.” I heard – a huge sigh I heard just behind the fortress of trees, somewhere beyond the bird pecked mangoes on the other side. No – I was not hearing things or suffering from sun stroke – it was a voice! A human voice, a voice of another tortured little girl, My Saturday soul mate who sighed out loud and not in her mind like me. We would have lots in common I could tell!

I had made up my mind. I approached the wall of trees, the yellow fruit, the red and purple flowers, the sugar laden fruits and said….”Hello…hellooooo.” “Hi” came back a squeaky but decidedly girlie voice. I had to see who was there. I hoisted myself on top the wall, scraping my knees and arms in the process. The wall was hot from sitting all day in the sun. My palms burned but I had to see. I prayed I would not fall but I was more afraid that my Mommy would see me climbing into someone else’s yard! But I had to see.

Panting, and scraped I finally was perched on top and I looked down into a yard never before seen – well not by me anyway and there I saw a little girl, with her hair plaited in neat corn rows, just like mine. But she was sooooooooooooo little. She was barely three feet tall but 11 years old she whispered when I asked her. We chatted about this and that, then and now, pets and bullies. Everything.

“Nyam Nyam” I heard bolting through the air. “Stop day dreaming, stop being idle! You are just standing there with the pins in your hands! Every Saturday it’s the same story with you.”

There was no tiny girl, there was no Saturday soul mate over the wall. There was just me and two buckets of clothes and my only friend was the stinging yellow sun.

Written by Tamu Petra Browne