My grandparents' big house was where I had always lived, so I was glad when Mom and Dad decided that taking the less-than-perfect job with the local company upon his graduation from college was good news to me. I didn't want to leave the cocoon of comfort that I had always enjoyed, and their decision made all of us much happier than the thought of moving to a new town and having to make new friends.
The big old house was a typical turn-of-the-century two-story mansion that had been built by one of the more prominent families of the town. It had been sold and bought a couple of times when, about the time my Uncle Sam (no joke, that's his real name!) was born, my great-grandparents pooled resources with my then-young married grandparents and helped them to buy the big old house. It needed paint and fix-up, but the price was right and it moved them out of a cheap rental and into a long term home of their own. Mom was born when Uncle Sam was about three years old and had lived in the house her entire life.
Mom met Dad in high school and they became an item, begging their parents into allowing them to marry just a few weeks after high school graduation. My grandparents—both sets—wanted them to go to college first, but they were determined to start their lives together and finally convinced them that they could work and continue their educations as a married couple with less stress and fewer problems than as singles dating. Everything was going according to their plan, but getting an education while attending college part-time was a much longer process than was originally thought.
The little cheap garage apartment was not in the best area of town and that bothered my grandparents, but they didn't interfere because they knew that my parents needed to be independent and learn how to provide for themselves. And, as newlyweds, they needed their privacy. That changed two years later when they announced that they had a surprise. I was scheduled to add to the family tree in about eight months.
My mother had always been healthy, but something happened with pregnancy and her body simply did not do well with the increased stresses. Morning sickness was almost all-day sickness making it difficult for her to keep her job at the local appliance plant where she was working the assembly line. It did not help that she was standing on her feet all day, so before she was out of her first trimester, she had to quit her job and drop out of the two classes that she was taking at the college.
Now there were more problems than an unplanned pregnancy as the young family's income dropped by fifty percent and their bills increased, especially the medical bills.
One of the remodeling projects that Grandma and Grandpa had done to the big old house was to build an addition to the first floor, turning it into a master bedroom suite that, according to their thinking, would keep them from climbing the stairs when they became old. Personally I think it was so that they could have privacy from their young children since until then, all of the bedrooms were upstairs where the walls offered little noise isolation and minimal privacy for the then young and virile parents.
A decade later, Uncle Sam was enjoying a career in the Marines and Mom was married and living in an apartment with my Dad, and the upstairs, which consisted of three guest bedrooms, a sewing room, and a large bathroom, was essentially abandoned.
I understand that some discussion was had and, after realizing that financially they had few options, Mom and Dad moved into my grandparents' big house, taking the upstairs as their "apartment". And that is where my parents still live today, and I lived until I married the love of my life, enjoying the benefits of having a loving, caring, and available grandmother-babysitter who loved to cook for her family, and a grandfather who enjoyed having his family under one roof.
Melanie and I became friends and neighbors when she and her family moved into the big house three doors down the street when we were about ten years old. Along with the other children in the neighborhood, we played, rode our bicycles, and attended church and school together, walking three blocks to our elementary school, and then, two blocks the opposite direction to our high school. We became such good friends that the entire 'gang' of boys and girls were like extended family, constantly at one another's houses, the girls having sleepovers and the guys camping out in the backyards.
In the years between the fourth or fifth grade and graduating from high school, we built strong friendships and a few of us dated and discovered our first loves. For Melanie and me, it would be our first and only loves.
And that love is the basis for me writing this story.
We lived in a small town that with no more than two miles between city-limit signs. Between the signs was a downtown business district, the roller rink and bowling alley (yes, we had both), the grocery store, and all of the amenities of small town life. There were a few neighborhood parks, a creek, a small lake, and, adjacent to the high school, ball fields where we played baseball, softball, and football. And we had sidewalks where we could ride our bicycles, take walks, and play hop-scotch.
In other words, we grew up in our own version of Mayberry.
As we became teenagers, things slowly changed as the girls became young women and the guys became jackasses. You know what I mean: boys become hormonal idiots and drool over the girls, making fools of themselves and saying things that a normal person would consider rude, crude, and insulting.
Some of the girls encouraged the behavior by flaunting their charms and giggling like they thought it was the funniest thing in the world, but a few withdrew from the groups of boys and girls and became more introverted because they thought that the behavior was crude, rude, and belittling. I was one of the guys who decided that I just did not want to be identified with them; and Melanie was one of the few girls who did the same.
It was a few weeks after Melanie's fourteenth birthday that I realized that I had not seen her in several days and wondered why. Her birthday party had gone as well as could be expected, although I did have to pull two guys aside and threaten to whoop their butts if they didn't apologize for their crude remarks. Some of the girls weren't much better behaved, egging the guys on with innuendo and giggles.
I walked down to her house to check on her, and when her Mrs. McKnight answered the door, smiling when she saw that it was me.
"Melanie's in her room," she said pleasantly. "Mike, I think she could use a friend right now. Why don't you go on up and see if you can cheer her up a little?"
"Yes, ma'am," I replied, adding as I bounded for the stairs, "Thanks!"
"No, thank YOU!" she replied, looking like she had tears in her eyes.
I knocked on the door and at first, there was no response. I knocked a second time and, finally, the door opened a few inches and she peered out, looking sad and dejected, her eyes red like she had been crying.
"Hi," I said cautiously. "I've been thinking about you and haven't seen you in a few days, and just thought that I would come by and see if you were alright."
She opened the door wide and our eyes met. Her lip started quivering and the tears rolled from her eyes and cross her cheeks as she threw both arms around my neck and started sobbing. I held her close and let her cry, fighting back the tears myself as I felt her anguish.
Finally, she quieted down and just held onto me, her face buried in my neck.
"Julie and Bobby were bad enough at my birthday party, but the other day I ran into them when I walked to the store for Momma and they started making fun of me, saying that I must be a boy because I don't have boobs or a butt. She even shook her big boobs at me and said, 'see, these are what a real woman has!' I started crying and just ran home and hid in my room."
I held her close with one arm while I caressed her back with my other hand, wondering how someone could be so cruel. Sure, she wasn't built like Julie, but I could feel her hard little golf ball-sized breasts and, even though she wasn't wearing a bra, there was no question in my mind that she was a girl becoming a woman. Holding her close while she cried away all of the hurt was not a problem for me because she was my best friend and I cared about her. It felt good to hold her, not just physically, but emotionally, and it felt like the right thing to do, so I continued to hold her close and caress her until she didn't want to be held any more, even after she quit crying.
But she didn't push me away.
We were close to the same height (and size, for that matter—both of us skinny rails), when she finally raised her head from my shoulder, our faces were only a few inches apart. Our eyes met and something inside of me bubbled, making me instantly want to do more than hold her, so I softly placed my lips on her lips and briefly kissed her.
When I opened my eyes after kissing her, Melanie had a strange look on her face, but her eyes were bright, the gold flakes in the brown of her eyes looking like brilliant yellow stars. Then she smiled and her face lit up like a Christmas tree, and she returned the kiss, only it was not a brief contact between our lips, but a kiss that turned my insides upside down, my mind into mush, and melted my heart while turning another part of my anatomy to steel. We made love with our lips as my hands explored her back, shoulders, and, finally her butt, squeezing her cheeks in my fingers as she moaned into my mouth.
.... There is more of this story ...