"Chloe, it's such a nice spring day. How about I get the bubbles and we play outside after your after-school snack?" Momma said.
I hadn't properly explored outside our new house yet, especially the back yard. "Yes, yes, yes." I dropped my backpack at the front door and started to run to the kitchen.
Momma cleared her throat. "Young lady, is that where this goes?"
"Oops. Sorry." I picked up my school things and carried them to their tote in the kitchen. Momma really was smart about those things. She had put the box in the kitchen which was what she called her domain. Whatever that meant. I just knew the room she could be found in most of the time was the kitchen. She checked my backpack for any notes and left it there so we always knew where to find it in a hurry.
I gobbled down my apple slices, only getting choked a couple of times then gulped the last sip of milk. "I'm ready." I jumped to my feet.
Momma stood at the railing of the deck and blew bubbles out into the back yard. I had only missed two, letting them pop when they hit the grass.
All of the sudden a little breeze caught a group of bubbles and sent them whizzing toward the neighbor's yard. I pushed my legs to run, trying to keep up. I wanted to be ready when the bubbles started falling down to my reach.
"Little girl. Little girl." A voice squeaked out from a patio chair.
"Oh, hello. I'm running after my bubbles." I shielded my eyes from the sun and stared as the soapy circles whipped over the woman's roof. "Aw, there they go. Missed those."
The lady was hunched in a chair with bright green pillows under her and behind her back. She wore a fluffy pink robe. Momma always frowned upon wearing night clothes outside the house.
"My name is Chloe Ann Parker. We are neighbors." I talked a little loud because my grandma had grayish white hair like this lady, and we had to speak in almost a yell for her to hear us.
"No need to scream at me. Have mercy." She smoothed the fur on her robe. "I'm Mrs. Smith, and I don't much like kids." Mrs. Smith mashed her lips together and squinted her eyes. Reminded me of my Aunt Bella when she called my cousins down for doing something bad.
"Nice to meet you. And well, I just love old people."
"Umph." Mrs. Smith crossed her arms over her chest.
A white streak whooshed from behind Mrs. Smith and stopped right in front of me.
"Aw, what a cute little puppy dog." I bent down to pet it. "What's its name?"
"That's Rosy but don't get no ideas about playing with her or nothing."
Mrs. Smith was sounding more like she had missed her nap or was sick. Momma called that a grumpy-bear.
Little Rosy tickled my hand with her tongue. Her knobby tail twitched back and forth.
"Have you made a new friend?" Momma walked up behind me.
"Momma, this is Rosy and that is Mrs. Smith." I pointed at the old woman. "I think she might have missed her nap or maybe she is udder the weather. You know, a grumpy-bear."
Momma smiled. "That's under the weather, dear. And I hope Mrs. Smith isn't ill." Momma tiptoe-walked up to the patio. "Hello, I've been meaning to come over and introduce myself. I'm Charis Parker. My husband is the new pastor over at the Baptist church."
"Yes, yes, that's nice." Mrs. Smith patted her leg. "Rosy, come here."
Rosy turned and looked but stayed put.
"Rosy! Come here, now." Mrs. Smith pushed on the chair arms and stood. She shuffled to her sliding door and cracked it open. "Rosy, dinner."
The little white dog licked my hand once more and then raced inside the house, disappearing in an instant.
"Wow. She is fast." I couldn't believe Rosy's short legs could move so quickly.
Mrs. Smith nodded one big nod. "Good day." She slipped into her house and slammed the door.
Momma grabbed my hand and we started to walk back to our yard.
"I think she's one of those crabby old people."
"Chloe Ann, you shouldn't talk about someone like that."
"Well, she is," I whispered to myself.
Later, when it was already dark, someone rang our doorbell. "Who could that be?" Momma said.
Daddy shrugged and hurried from the den. Me and Momma followed close behind.
As the door swept open, there stood Mrs. Smith, still in her fluffy pink robe. She propped her hands on her hips. "Where is my dog?"
Momma scooted next to Daddy. "Honey, this is our neighbor, Mrs. Smith. Chloe and I met her today." Momma motioned to Mrs. Smith. "Please come in."
"No, thank you. I just want to know if this little girl lured my Rosy over here. I can't find her anywhere." Mrs. Smith glared at me.
I jammed my fists on my waist. "Are you saying I stole your dog?"
"If the shoe fits." When she said the word fits, spit shot out.
I wasn't sure what a shoe had to do with her missing dog, but I was pretty sure she was accusing me of taking Rosy. My ears were getting hot and I gritted my teeth. Just as I started to tell Mrs. Smith how crabby I thought she was, Momma pushed me behind her.
"I can assure you, Mrs. Smith, that Chloe Ann doesn't have your dog. I don't appreciate your accusation. If we should spot little Rosy, we will let you know. Good evening." She shut the door, looked at Daddy, and blew out a big breath.
"Now do you see that she is a crabby old person?" I stomped my foot.
Daddy rubbed his chin. "That's the impression I got."
"Now, you two, we don't know anything about her. She may have a good reason to act that way." Momma led the way back to the den.
"When I act like a grumpy-bear, I get sent to my room with no TV or anything. Mrs. Smith needs a time-out!"
Have you ever had to meet new neighbors? How did you feel? Describe what that time was like.
What are some reasons someone would act like a grumpy-bear like Mrs. Smith? Brainstorm some reasons.
Chloe was accused of taking Rosy. Have you ever been accused of doing something you didn't do? How did you feel?
Make a prediction. What do you think happened to the little dog, Rosy?