My brother and I would walk home from school every day. Every day it was the same. Of course, the seasons would change, but we would always walk. I am three years older than my brother. He is a gangly creature, with blonde hair, freckled face and searing blue eyes. His pants are always too short, and have holes in each knee, he plays until he passes out. He plays and plays, plays outside, plays with the neighbors, with me. We played tag, we played power rangers, and we make dinner out of anything we find outside. The menu usually consisted of leaf lettuce, with mud dressings, followed with mud pie.
We walked home, every day.
The bell would ring, and we would race outside meeting each other at the overpass to cross the busy street our school was on. It was a race, the beginning of our evening of fun. We held on to our backpacks, and raced past every other kid, hearing the buzzing of traffic below us. After our race, which I won, every time, we caught our breaths and walked a few yards to a small shack, the shack was directly across from our school. It was white, dilapidated and filled with heavenly treats.
Violets. That is what we called it; it was a small, shop, run by an elderly woman named Violet. Violet was sassy and angry and cursed like a sailor. She had the most wrinkles I had ever seen on a face and the whitest hair, which was always going in opposite directions. Violet, liked me. Violet could stand my brother, he grew on people, and it was the toothless grin. After our races we would walk into the shop, filled with other less important students, and parents waiting. It was the size of a glorified closet, but inside was an antique glass case filled with any imaginable candy one could want. My brother and I would search for loose change everywhere and anywhere and put our winnings on the counter, hearing it chime against the glass. We would opt for sour candies, chocolates and putting our money to a penny candies so we could have quantity. My brother’s heart, however, was in the old-fashioned pop machine, that kicked out crisp, cool bottles of his favorite soda.
We would feast, our own private feast, of candy and soda. We never asked permission, we never told a soul. It was our place. Our secret, maybe along with the rest of the student body, but it was our place. A place of solace and comfort, away from our other siblings, away from our estranged parents, away from reality, away from the daunting scare of growing up.
We would sit, and we would laugh, and we would fight. We would meet there after our races, almost every day, even after I moved to middle school I would meet him. Of course the racing stopped, and we accrued more money, we still walked home, and stopped at Violet’s first.
Violet was old, very old, maybe one hundred years old, maybe one hundred and five, she was always kicking rowdy kids out, cursing them as they laughed, but she enjoyed our company. She never said it, but we felt it. We were confused kids, but we were happy kids, and she let us use her shack as a place of sanctuary.
I am grown now, as is my brother. Our school still stands, the overpass still stands, but our shack is gone. Demolished sometime this year, it had spent the last fifteen years boarded up, and collecting graffiti, becoming more and more unusable. I drove past, with my brother a few weeks ago, on a trip downtown, and we both looked at that spot, where Violets stood in all her glory and remembered. We will always remember Violets.
It was our place.