Little Abigail had spent a good part of her young life playing with her older sister Lynn. Summers were particularly good times, with warm days spent out of doors, massive blue skies towering above her head and those refreshing, gentle afternoon breezes. Chasing butterflies with a net. Chasing the family cat with a lot of giggles, but not with any luck. And quiet evenings spent lying on the soft front lawn, watching the lighting-bugs and the stars in the sky, patiently waiting to see which one would out twinkle the other.
Abbie, which is what Lynn called her little sister, was also especially fond of the garden hose. After a full day of running, jumping, and climbing, she discovered that a good spray from that hose, first warm, then cold, was just what her and her sister needed. It was like liquid energy. Before the spraying began, both girls would be dirty and sweaty after having played all day, flip flops clapping a bit slower than they had been at the beginning of the day. But then the spraying began, and Abbie would find herself yelling at her sister to “STOP!” but laughing uncontrollably at the same time. And how could she not laugh, stomping her bare feet in the wet grass; her feet felt squeaky clean but with mud oozing up between her toes. At somewhere around this time of day, it always seemed that Abbie’s Mom would appear at the kitchen door. A stern “you girls get cleaned up…it’s almost time for dinner! ” was the usual announcement at this time of the day. And it always got the startled attention of the sisters. They’d kind of think that they were in trouble, but the sharp warning came from a face that slyly grinned and whose proud eyes seemed warm and happy.
It was hard for a four-year-old to understand, but this particular summer was coming to an end. Abbie’s Mom had hinted and hinted and tried to explain to Abbie that her big sister would be going to school in the fall, for the first time in her young life. Abbie knew all about the fall season; willingly buried by her sister under millions of leaves, the fun she had dressing up for Halloween, and perhaps most importantly, hot chocolate. It just didn’t sink in or it didn’t seem that important to Abbie. Two weeks from now is a long, long time.
Well, that long period of time went by very, very quickly. On the morning of the first day of school, there was a lot of excitement in the house; a whirlwind of activity revolving around Lynn. “Where’s the other sock? Breakfast is ready. Remember it’s bus number 13… gosh, I hope….well, that’s just what it is. I’m so excited for you. You’ll have such a good time.” While Lynn could easily have been blown away from all of the attention, Abbie felt barely a breeze. She suddenly felt sad. Not, I can’t find my huggie kind of sad, but a new kind of sad that was very different for her.
As the girls stood at the end of the drive, they strained to catch the first glimpse of Lynn’s ride to school. Suddenly, here came the big yellow bus, bouncing down the gravel road, already half full of students. Lynn was so focused on her mission of boarding the school bus that she almost forgot to give hugs to her mom and to Abbie. As the bus pulled away, Lynn managed a wave out of her bus window. Abbie’s Mom had Mommy tears flowing down her cheeks. Abbie let loose with a different type of tear. And those only come by the thousands.
Days went by and everyone settled into their new routine. Lynn kept talking about her new friends and Mom kept her promise of playtime with Abbie. But helping with the laundry wasn’t all that fun and perhaps imaginary friends could only be enjoyed by two sisters.
Then one day, Abbie and her Mom were heading out to the car, for a trip to the neighborhood’s grocery store. Just up the street, Abbie saw what appeared to be a yellow school bus parked in the driveway of a house where no one lived. Abbie’s Mom explained that it wasn’t a school bus, but a moving truck and maybe they had just gotten new neighbors. There were adults milling about everywhere, carrying boxes and chairs and mattresses into the house. And on the front porch sat one little girl.
As Abbie soon learned, the little girl’s name was Leanne. Her sister had also just started her first year of school. Leanne had moved here from far, far away, having left all of her friends behind, and she wasn’t real keen on moving into this new home. With sister situations in common, Abbie and Leanne quickly became friends. They had a lot of things in common, but the really cool thing was learning about their differences. Abbie will always love her sister like only sisters do, but fate had delivered to her the next best thing, a new best friend for life.