Red light, green light. A great game. Loved it to the extreme.
And when we played it at dusk, Maria would actually participate as well. And one summer evening I was pretty lucky she decided to grace me with her involvement.
I sprinted whenever "green light" was hollered. While my sights were glued on the prize, my legs churned ninety to nothin'. Halfway there, I tripped. As I landed on my stomach in the grass, I felt like something was attached to me. I looked over my shoulder, and there was a piece of wood stuck to me somehow.
The sight frightened me, and I cried out.
Maria -- the sister who feared crowds, flying balls, and moths -- rushed to my side and pulled the object out of my foot without hesitation.
As I stared at her, amazed at what she had just done, my father scooped me up and carried me into the house.
Blood is dripping from my foot. Mother is running to save her carpet with a mound of paper towels. I am crying, still trying to figure out what happened. My foot is throbbing with pain.
Eventually I learn I stepped on a nail sticking out of a piece of wood in our neighbor's yard.
After this incident, I decide I must be pretty tough. (Before, I was just tough.) I never even felt the nail enter my foot.
However, that's not the reason for the telling of this story.
This is the moment when Maria became my hero. This is the moment when I knew, to the depths of my being, she would always be there. This is the moment when I learned to never believe a person is always as he or she seems. We all have moments of courage and fear, shyness and confidence. We are never as our first, second, or third impressions portray us.
And thank goodness for that. Because third grade loomed. And with it came people who knew me well. Or thought they did.