Either way, it was two doors down. It didn’t matter in which place I stood, Opal’s or the Barber Shop, it was two doors down.  My two favorite places to hide after school.  And, may I please add; I was the favorite at both!

Opal was a big bosomed, big bummed grandmother and she loved me. She ran a most successful restaurant that served only the best in homemade food. Chicken and noodles, rolls, dressing, pie- the works! I would come in after school and out she would come, hands and apron covered in flour. But those floured hands always held a piece of cherry pie for me. I would sit at the counter, listen to Opal speak the mysteries of stories long ago, gobble my pie, and then off to my next favorite hiding place…two doors down.

The Barber Shop. It was a busy place and always hopping with customers!  The brightly colored formica chairs lined the walls and they were usually filled by gentlemen waiting for custom flat tops and straight razor shaves. The Barber was like a maestro when he sharpened his blades. Several smooth quick flicks on the strap and it was ready for the next five o’ clock shadow.

The Barber Shop held a cooler. The kind where you opened the lid and the bottles of pop were hanging on the inside. I would put my dime in, one that the Barber gave me, and then the tough part came. Which should I choose? Root beer or orange soda? What about grape…the root beer usually won out.

The Barber Shop also held one more thing; talk. Children are known to lurk and listen,  I listened a lot. And that’s where I first heard the news. There was a new girl coming to town…

Yes, her name was Lisa. She was coming from up North, something about her mother passing away when she was little and her dad needing to take a job driving a truck. Yes, she was my age too. No brothers or sisters, just her. And then I heard something else. She had a grandmother here in town and she would be living with her…yes, above the restaurant, with Opal…

It was that moment when I first heard the slight sound of a match striking the flint and a small flicker of a flame ignited.

Opal had a granddaughter. There would be a girl living with Opal. That girl would get the cherry pie and hear the mysteries of long ago. That girl would get to live above that wonderful restaurant and have hugs from floured hands and clothes stained with dustings of pie crust. That girl; the new girl.

What would happen to me…

Did you hear the match strike the flint?

On the bright side of all this chaos, I would get a new friend. I would get to know the new girl first because Opal, well, she loved me. I would get to spend days after school sitting at the counter eating cherry pie with the new girl. I would get to walk up that long, long, staircase into the wonderful world of life over the restaurant, because that’s where Opal lived. And now, so would the new girl.

But I wasn’t so sure about the Barber Shop. Would I take her two doors down? Would I let her sit in those orange, red, yellow and blue formica chairs? Would I let her get a root beer from the cooler? Those questions would only be answered in time. After I got to know the new girl. I couldn’t share the Barber with just anyone…he was my dad, and she already had one.

She was much different than I expected. Even in the third grade she was sure of her self. She was bossy and demanding. She wasn’t afraid of anything, and to my credit, she wasn’t much interested in Opal, or the restaurant. But, if that’s the way it was, she would not get to go two doors down. Nope, of that I was sure.

So as the summer progressed, I was positive that this new girl would not cause a stir. She wasn’t that different. No one would be too interested in her when the school year started. But,what is true about new girls; they always hold a mystery to others. And Lisa fulfilled the role of the new girl in town. Her smile was bright, she walked on air, and, of course, she had the best of everything. At least we thought so. She was always getting new clothes or toys from her truck driving dad. I told myself he must have felt guilty being away so much, having his daughter raised by her grandmother. Thats why she had everything.

One more thorn in the side, she didn’t have rules! She could do more than any other third grade girl in school. And, that was unfair.

Did you hear it again? That match striking the flint…

Well, one day, the Barber came home and stated we would be moving. Of all things, moving! I would be leaving my school, my friends, my home, the restaurant, and two doors down, I, no we, would be leaving the Barber Shop.

Once again, the bright side in this chaos was this; I would be the new girl in town. Yes! Me! The new girl! I would have girls clamoring to know my name and where I was from. I would have girls wanting to be my best friend! I would have girls wanting to tell me all of their secrets! So, in the fourth grade, I became known as “the new girl”…

And was it grand! For about a week. That’s all it lasted; a week! For one whole week I was Cinderella at the ball…but then, the girls got back in their cliques, the leaders of the pack took their places and suddenly the slipper on my foot didn’t fit so well.

Did this happen to all the new girls? Or was it just me? What happened? All the new girls I knew remained intriguing. They all had qualities and things I wanted. So, it didn’t take long before I decided, yes, it had to be me.

And the flame grew a little brighter…

Today I’m over at Kristen’s