SPEAKEASY 137 – Lemonade Girl

“Good news.   I got my transfer order. ” My father announced, “We’re going to Victoria, British Columbia!”

My sisters and mother were thrilled, “When are we leaving?! ” they asked.

“When will we stop moving?” I asked, upset at the thought of being uprooted.

“Maybe some day soon.” My father said gently.

He put the “For Sale” sign on the house the next day.  I stared at it sullenly.  Now I had to leave my friends all over again.  “There are many sacrifices to make,”  Mom lectured, “this is part of growing up.  You learn to adapt to whatever the future brings.”

Three weeks passed.  We sold our house, packed up and were ready to leave.  I didn’t want to move but I was a nine-year old boy, I had to go where my parents took me.   Mom registered us at our new school.   Wearily, I sat in a classroom of strangers.

Months passed and I started settling in.  On the walk home from school one day, my friend Michael told me where to get the best lemonade. I wasn’t a big fan of lemons, but I agreed to check it out.

That’s when I saw her, hard at work.   There was a sign in crayon on the table, hardly impressive and yet,  the line was getting longer.  Curiosity got the better of me –  I fished through my pockets for some change.  I gave her a dime and she passed me a cup. She smiled and said “Thank you” – suddenly, the sun was shining a lot brighter.  As soon as that refreshing elixir slid down my throat I knew I had discovered something incredible.

I was there every day, standing in line for a few sips of the magical potion and her pretty smile.  Twelve lemonades later, I learned her name was Sita.  She was eight and dreamed of managing her own store one day.  We became good friends.  Sometimes I sat with her and helped her at the lemonade stand.  It was set up in front of her house, and when all the lemonade was gone, I would help her carry in the giant orange pitcher and paper cups.  Then I would walk home with a little skip in my step.

“You’re in a good mood,” my mother would say as she prepared my supper.

“Must be all that lemonade he’s been drinking,” my father said with a grin.

The school year ended and summer began.  Sita and I continued to run the lemonade stand, but now it was a joint venture. I borrowed one of Mom’s pitchers and bought more supplies so we could keep up with demand.   Business was good and the summer was passing blissfully with shared dreams of lemonade domination.

One afternoon in late August, as I walked up the path to Sita’s house, I saw her father hammering a sign post into the front lawn.   Curious, I paused to look more closely.  My eyes began to water as he swung the sign around and I read the letters…”F-O-R  S-A-L-E”.

Sita stepped out of the house.  “You’re moving?” I said with a lump in my throat.

“Yes. Daddy has a new job.”

I didn’t wait for more, tears streaming down my face, I turned and ran back home.

“What’s happened?  Are you okay?” Mom said with a worried look.  In between sobs I shared my devastation.  She held me in her arms, “Don’t cry darling.  These things happen.  Everything will be fine, you’ll see.  We must adapt to what–”

“I don’t want to adapt!” I screamed as I ran to my bedroom.

I saw Sita the next day,  there was a sorrow hanging over my head that I could not shake.  I knew they would be leaving soon and I would never see her again.  Sita was optimistic, she said that once we grew up we would manage our own store and everything would be perfect.  I looked at her with pity and the wisdom of one who was a year older.  Two weeks later, they moved away.

Years passed and Victoria became my permanent home.   I was in college now, that first summer forgotten until I drove past my old neighbourhood.  There, in front of a familiar house were two kids selling lemonade.  Instinctually, I stopped and bought a cup for fifty cents.  One sip and I was hit with the memory of Sita’s pretty smile.

“From that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.”