Katrina Hayes ©2004
"Will you do me a favor?"
"Well, it is actually a rather large favor, or more of a promise-"
"Just ask. I'll tell you off if it's too much," Leslie flashed her old companion a metal-covered smile. As always, the brashness of the younger generation would put Samantha back, or "Sam" as Leslie insisted on calling her, but unlike most other old people that Leslie knew, Samantha wouldn't give her lectures or anything; she'd actually been quite a rebel in her day, apparently, and that was a day when rebels were not widely found, even among the teenagers. "Teenager" probably wasn't even a widely used word at that point.
So Sam said what she wanted to tell Leslie. "Don't get married."
"Don't do it. I got married. Biggest mistake of my life. And I didn't really have a choice – in today's society, you still aren't going to be well looked-at for not marrying, but at least you won't be completely thrown out of it. Don't do it. Don't get married."
"Ok Sam, I won't. It's not like I'd ever exactly planned to."
"Oh, but you will. There will be times you'll really regret having said that just now. But please – please, do it for me. Well, don't do it. But you… you ‘got my point' as you say, didn't you?"
"Yea Sam, yea I did. I always understand you. And you understand me a hell of a lot more than anyone else is willing to." Sam blinked a couple times at the language, but she'd given up a while ago on cleaning Leslie's mouth out. It wasn't that big of a deal. Just one of those infuriating things that happened as you got older, getting these impulses to ‘correct' the younger generation. Revenge on the ones who did the same to you when you'd been the younger generation, Sam supposed, so she'd been getting sick of the whole "growing old" thing. And then Leslie showed up. They'd both done one another a world of good, since they'd run into one another at the grocery store what seemed ages ago, and talked, and realized that they lived less than a mile apart. Leslie had been walking over on a regular basis ever since, and it seemed like ages, even though it had only been a couple years. "Well, it's four, my mother will be getting home soon and I have to be there before she is or I'll get yet another lecture. Thanks again Sam. And I've made a promise to you." She tossed her red-brown hair back over her shoulders as she stood up, and leaned over to hug Sam sitting in her recliner that looked almost as old and tired as she was.
"Thanks for stopping by to keep an old widow like me company. Take care of yourself. And I'll come haunting you if you don't keep that promise – even though you'll have a lot more than me to worry about if you don't keep it. Goodbye, Leslie."
Leslie had already been halfway out the front door, waiting patiently for Sam to finish, and she turned back out to the street and ran most of the way home. Not get married, ha! She probably wouldn't even be able to find a husband if she wanted to. And she wouldn't want to, as long as her parents did want her to. Hell, not go to college? What did they think she was, some kind of baby-machine? No, that was her mother. Leslie was not going to let herself end up like her own mother. If that meant she never got married, even if that meant she never had a meaningful relationship again when Sam died, she wouldn't care. She wasn't going to let herself end up like either of her parents. All of her siblings had followed the paths they had. She had no intention of adding another tally to their little "children who turned out Right" scoresheet.
She'd done what she could. What guy would want to marry the biggest tomboy to ever show her face in this pothole of a town? Guys were her friends, not her possible fiancées. She continued scuffing her feet along the curb, studying every dimple and pucker in the cement's surface, without really seeing any of it, as lost in her thoughts as she was. Never get married. In today's society… what had she just promised? She'd only promised to a friend something that she thought she had already promised to herself a while ago. From the first time she'd lost a friend, back in third grade, to the world of fashion, makeup, popularity and dating, she'd sworn to herself she would never fall into that trap. It had been almost six years since then, and she hadn't faltered yet. Her peer group, over those years, had become almost entirely male as more and more females took that hated path, and she had become more and more of a true tomboy. And then, recognizing the dusty, pale dirt that showed up alongside the curb where most of the other lawns had grass, she was home. And just after the screen door had slammed behind her, she heard her mother's car pulling into the driveway. She bolted up the stairs, and her mother was none the wiser. Generation gap. At least she had Sam.