Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 4

Page 4


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The girl gave Arden a weird look, and Arden wondered about the sentence There’s enough woods to go around. That was what her mother always said, like when she and Roman got grabby over a pint of ice cream. There’s enough ice cream to go around. Maybe it didn’t make as much sense when it came to woods.

“These are my woods, too,” the girl said in a low, uncertain voice.

“I don’t think so. But like I said, it’s okay. You can play in my woods.”

“We just moved in there.” The girl pointed to the house behind Arden’s. Its backyard abutted the small section of woods, like a mirror image of the Huntleys’ own home. “So I think these are both of our woods.”

“You’re right,” Arden said. “We’re neighbors!”

Arden learned that the girl’s name was Lindsey Matson, and that she was finishing up third grade, too, and that she and her parents had just moved to town from a farm.

“You had your own farm?” Arden demanded. “Did you have sheep?”

“Yup.”

“Did you have horses?”

“Two of them!”

“Did you have zebras?” Arden had a particular yen for zebras.

“Um, no.”

“That’s okay.” Arden hadn’t really expected Lindsey’s personal farm to house zebras. She just thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Lindsey told Arden that her dad had gotten very sick. He couldn’t work on the farm anymore, and they couldn’t afford to pay anyone else to do it. So the Matsons sold the farm, they sold the sheep and the horses and everything else, and they moved here.

“It’s very expensive to treat cancer. Especially the kind my dad has,” Lindsey told Arden, sounding somber but also a tiny bit proud, like her dad was special for having a special kind of cancer. “That’s what this is for.” She gestured at the long metal object in her hands.

“What does it do?” Arden asked, wondering if the answer was somehow “cure cancer.”

“It’s a metal detector,” Lindsey explained. “I’m looking for coins. Preferably gold. That would help pay for my dad’s hospital bills.”

“How much have you found so far?” Arden asked.

“Nothing. But I just started looking.”

Arden thought if there was gold buried in her backyard, she would probably know about it. She changed the subject. “Are you going to start at Northeast tomorrow?” Northeast Elementary was where she went to school.

“I guess.” Lindsey scuffed at the dirt. “I don’t really want to make new friends.”

Arden didn’t quite know what to think of this. She’d never considered whether she wanted or didn’t want to make new friends. It was just something that happened. In fact, she was pretty sure it was happening right at this moment. “Everyone at Northeast is really nice,” Arden reassured Lindsey. “I’ll introduce you to them all tomorrow.”

Lindsey looked cheered by this. “Anyway,” she said, “it’s just for another few weeks, and then it’s summer break.”

“Yeah!” Arden enthused. “Are you going to camp this summer? I’m going to Disney World for the first time, and then day camp at the Y, and then we’re visiting my grandparents in Atlantic Beach in August. They live right on the ocean.” Arden was excited for all of this, even visiting her mother’s parents, which usually was boring, but now she had hope that they might give her Tabitha’s barre and pointe shoes.

Lindsey shook her head. “I wish I could do something like that,” she said, “but we can’t anymore. We have to save all our money for Dad. That’s what my parents say.” She shrugged, like What can you do?

Arden nodded. She felt bad about her expensive Just Like Me Doll still in her arms, and bad about her secret wish for Tabitha’s performance tutu. Probably Lindsey didn’t have any Just Like Me Dolls. “I hope you find some gold,” Arden said.

Arden thought about Lindsey all the rest of that afternoon, all through dinner and her TV time and her nightly bath. She liked her new neighbor. But she sensed Lindsey’s powerlessness, the odds stacked against her like a pile of bricks, and it made Arden sad. If there was one thing Arden never felt, it was powerless. Her mother had always drilled into her, from the time she was a baby, that her power was something that came from inside of her. Her strength was her kindness, her generosity, her positive spirit. “And no matter how bad circumstances get,” her mother would sometimes say, “no matter how bleak things might seem, never lose that part of you. If you only have ten cents to your name, give it away to charity. Being a charitable person will do more for you than ten cents ever could.”


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