Saturday, January 2, 2010

Honeysuckle and Poison Ivy

Honeysuckle and Poison Ivy

By Sherri Collins

Jen dangled her legs off her front porch and watched as our car pulled into her drive. When I got out, my little sister, Mandy, followed, causing Jen and I to exchange looks and roll our eyes. She knew my visits were always two-for-one, like it or not. Mom waved, said she’d be back in a few hours.

We played with Jen’s poodle in the backyard and then took to hunting for the honeysuckle that grew wild along the back fence, near the woods. I reveled in the scent, while Jen showed us how to pull out the stamen and place it on our tongues. The hint of the sweet nectar teased my taste buds. I picked handfuls of the white flowers and stuffed them in my pocket to give to Mom later.

The hunt evolved into a game of tag, and both the dog and Mandy nipped at our heels. Three times, I yelled tag! and gave Mandy a push, harder than necessary. She tripped and tumbled along the grass, but sprung up, laughing and only annoying me more.

When Mom arrived, we fell into the backseat, sweaty, dirty and exhausted. At home, Mom did a double take at Mandy, grabbed her arm, cupped her chin. “God almighty, what happened?” she asked. I turned and saw the angry rash spreading across Mandy’s skin. Red welts peppered her face.

Mom shrank back. “What were you girls doing?”

Mandy didn’t look at me. “It’s poison ivy,” she said. “I fell in it.”

“Fell? Looks like you rolled around in it.” Mom ushered Mandy past me and into the bathroom. I listened to the water run into the tub, then heard Mom’s gasp. “God almighty! Look at your legs!”

I didn’t want to hear anymore. I went into the room I shared with Mandy and sat on my bed, tracing my finger across the bedspread’s pattern, the same pattern as hers. She finally walked in, her hair wet and her uncovered skin dotted with pink calamine lotion. I wanted to apologize with my eyes, but she never looked my way as she slunk to her bed and lay down, facing the wall.

After a long time, I pulled the clumps of honeysuckle out of my pocket and held them up to my face, breathing in the perfume. With the scent still tickling my nose, I placed them on her nightstand and stepped out.


Bio: Sherri Collins would like to thank her sister for being so forgiving and putting up with a few memorable childhood pranks. Sherri's work can be found in The Oddville Press, Blink/Ink, The Writer's Bloc, and Flashes in the Dark.