“Four little soldiers, boxes in tow, the youngest two unpack and the older two unload.” Moving day had come and the song I had made up years ago began playing in my head.
I was always making up songs to distract me from the mundane activities I had come accustom to at such a young age. Being raised in the Military, we learn to adapt to our circumstance and make the best of our situation. I think that’s why we, my sisters and I, sang all the time. It took us away to another world and made the experience more tolerable.
I learned to apply that when another move or transfer would come in; we were always meeting new people and making new friends only to lose contact due to everyone being moved around. Singing helped me cope with the constant changes.
At least we always found a common ground, we were all in the same situation being army brats but becoming civilians would be more of a challenge. Not everyone had the same views, as I was beginning to see.
We swiftly unloaded the trucks and had the furniture and boxes in their proper places. How professional we had become at unloading and unpacking. We were all in our rooms arranging the furniture to our liking, when Mom called out to us from the living room, “Girls, I need you to go out and find the trash bin, we need to get these empty boxes out of here.”
As we walked into the living room, my oldest sister asked, “Do you have any idea as to where the bins are?” Mom replied, “I was told there is one at each end of the parking lots. Find the closest one and then let me know where that is.” She said matter of factly in a tone we understood to mean, ‘go find it for yourselves.’
This was the first time we had lived in an apartment complex. The buildings were two stories high, we lived in a bottom apartment. There were 8 buildings, all of them lined with trees and bushes. Not at all like the desert scenery we had been living in. There were 2 swimming pools, one for children and one strictly for adults, a playground with swings and a merry go-round, and a tennis court on the property.
The sun began to set just as we found the nearest bin. As I threw in the stack of boxes, I thought I had seen a man standing just on the other side of the bin. Once the boxes left my hands, the shadow disappeared. “Great.” I said under my breath, “Guess this place is full of dead people and shadows too.”
My sister must have heard me, as she asked, “What did you say?” “Nothing, I didn’t say anything. I was just saying, I’m glad to throw those boxes away, they were getting heavy.” “Uh Huh, sure. You better not start saying and seeing things around here. That’s getting old,” she said sarcastically, as she turned to walk back to the apartment. I did a double take back towards the trash bin as I followed behind her, nope nothing there.
We were all hungry and exhausted and so dinner was made and eaten just as quickly, as we were all ready to turn in for the night.
For the first time in my life, I was exposed to a massive number of other children. The apartments were full of children of all ages. By the time we woke up and got dressed we could already hear kids playing outside. There was so much to explore, we didn’t know where to start.
We all ran into the kitchen where Mom and Dad were sitting at the dining room table, “Good Morning! Can we go outside and play?” We said in unison. After taking a sip of her coffee, Mom said, “Yes, but first eat your breakfast. And then clean up your mess.”
We all ate our cereal and washed our bowls and headed to the great outdoors. There were so many children running everywhere, we decided to hit the playground first. As we turned the corner of our building, there were kids scattered all over the playground. There was a group of boys in the middle of an open area playing football. Another group hanging on the monkey bars and another group sitting on the swings.
It seemed all the girls were huddled around the picnic tables at the furthest end of the playground next to the outdoor grills. “This is odd.” I said out loud. “What, what’s odd? Do you see something? My younger sister Angie asked. “No, I think it’s odd that none of the boys and girls are playing with each other. Don’t you think that’s odd?” I answered.
“Yeah, I guess it is odd. Wonder why?” Angie asked as something in my head said, “Go over to the girls and ask them why but before you do, take a good look at them.” What, what do you mean, take a good look at them? I asked in my head. Just as I was waiting for the response, I started to see shadows darting around. It looked as if there was just as many shadows running around as there were children.
Oh my goodness! Now I see. The shadows are making them stay separated! “What could these be? This should be interesting,” I muttered under my breath as we walked over to a table of chatty girls.
“Hello, my name is Sheri, these are my sisters, we just moved into apartment 538.” I boldly introduced myself and my sisters and started the conversation with them as I continued to look out the corner of my eye for any shadow people.
“What are you all doing?” A few of the girls had some Barbie dolls and were exchanging dresses and the accessories. “We have a lot of Barbie clothes, let’s see what you have.”
And with that, we hit it off with the girls. Now to find out why they didn’t speak or interact with the boys.
The day was spent playing with dolls and running around in games of hide and seek. It was just the distraction I needed from thinking about the shadow people and the dead people that I have yet to see.
Later that night as I laid in bed processing the day, I thought to myself, this world just gets more and more curious!
To be continued…