The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door

From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

The Girl Next Door

Do you remember
Many years ago
When we were young,
How we used to play together
Every day?

It seems like yesterday—
The childhood world
Of clowns and cotton candy
And summer days
That never seemed to end
When we played hide ’n’ seek
From four o’clock till dusk
Then sat outside on someone’s stoop
And listened to the crickets
And slapped away mosquitoes
And talked about our dreams
And what we’d do when we grew up
Until our mothers called us in.

And do you remember
That one winter when it snowed
For days and days on end
And we tried to build an igloo
Like the Eskimos?
Or when we made a game
Of raking leaves
All up and down the street
Until we’d made the biggest pile
The world had ever seen
nd then we jumped in it?
Or how about the time
We gathered honeysuckle
From your yard
And sold it to the neighbors?
And the grand day when finally
The training wheels came off our bikes
And we were free
To explore the whole world In an afternoon
So long as we stayed
On our own street.

But those days passed by furtively
And we grew up, as children do
Until we reached a day when we
Assumed that we were too grown-up
To play amid the trees on summer nights . . .
and when I see you now
You’ve changed in ways I can’t explain
You’re like a rose that blooms before its time
And falls a victim to
The February frost.

Because the waist on your jeans is getting tight
Symbolic of a youth that’s not your own
And your face is pale and green—
You don’t look well.
I see you scowling at the street
From the window in your room,
It’s so rare to see you smiling anymore.
And when a car pulls up outside
You run downstairs and out the door
With a suitcase in each hand
And the car speeds away
And the girl next door is gone.

And I long once more
For the summer days
When I stood on your porch
And banged on your door
And bade you come outside to greet
the afternoon’s adventures.

Won’t you come out to play, once more?
For we are still so young . . .

Amanda Dykstra, age 14

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