*Disclaimer: Any persons engaging in any sexual activity are at least eighteen years of age.
**Explanation of symbols.
'<<<<' Signifies going back in time.
'>>>>' Signifies a return to present time.
***There is absolutely no sex in this story; it is a story about a girl that grew up loving a wonderful young man.
The old tree still stood, tall and strong. From a thick branch hung an old rope. It dangled twenty feet down. At the end of the rope was a slab of wood.
Johnny Arcenoux smiled sadly as he looked at the child's swing. He remembered finding the extremely thick rope in their grandfather's barn and begging Poppa for it.
"Boy, what you want with that thing?" Poppa asked him in his gruff voice.
"I'm make me a swing for Colie," Johnny had declared.
He'd drilled the large hole into the two-foot long board, and then used a router to smooth down the edges. The entire board had been liberally coated with polyurethane varnish, to protect it against the elements. With Poppa yelling out instructions, the eighteen-year-old boy had climbed up the tree and shimmied along the branch. Poppa had madded him first knot the rope, then use a metal clamp to further secure the rope to the branch. >>>>
He heard a car crunch onto the gravel driveway of the home and looked around the side of the house. He did not recognize the luxury sedan and slowly made his way around to the front of his mother's house.
Madison Marcoloni let a rare smile cross her face as she saw Johnny come around the side of the house. He was just as handsome today as he had been all those years ago.
The two five year old girls jumped up and down, barely able to control their excitement as the handsome young man hung a swing for them.
"Yohnny can do anything!" Nicole declared and Madison believed it.
He was so brave, climbing up to that high branch as they watched. Then, to their horror and their delight, he jumped! From all the way up there, he jumped down and landed on the ground with a devil may care smile.
"You go first," Nicole offered to Madison.
"No, it's your swing," Madison said and the girl straddled the rope and shrieked as her big brother gave her the christening shove.
"Sorry to hear about your momma," Madison said as she locked the car door. "Two weeks ago, right?"
"Yeah," Johnny said. "Heart attack; she went real fast."
They walked, side by side, into the back yard.
"I can't believe it's still hanging there," Madison said and smiled up at Johnny.
"Yeah, every time I wanted to take it down, Momma stopped me," he said. "Hell, anytime I wanted to change anything, she stopped me."
"Oh my God!" Madison laughed. "The table's still there too!"
She ran over to it and lovingly ran a hand over the smooth planks. She looked back at him and smiled.
"We had so much fun playing on this thing," she said as he looked at it and smiled.
He smiled and pointed up, over her head. She looked up and her mouth opened in shock.
The six-year-old girls climbed up the rope ladder to the tree house. Their dolls were up there, as was a checkers board and all the checkers pieces that Yohnny had made for them. The best thing was, they could pull the ladder up after themselves, and NO ONE could get up there; they had the whole place all to themselves.
"One day, when I'm better," Nicole said. "I'm going to marry Yohnny."
"Going to be pretty hard to do," Madison said. "Since I'll already be married to him."
"Nuh uh!" Nicole screamed.
That was the only fight Madison could ever remember having with her best friend.
Johnny watched as Madison kicked off her high-heeled shoes and grabbed onto the rope ladder.
"Careful," he smiled. "You're not eight years old anymore."
He put his hand on her rump, to steady her and to help her up. She smiled over her shoulder and he realized his hand was holding a very delectable young buttock.
"Got me?" Madison asked and giggled.
She looked inside of the old tree house and smiled sadly before descending the ladder.
"They're still up there," she said and began to cry silent tears.
"Yeah," he said, a few tears of his own beginning to fall. "I just couldn't. Couldn't go up in there and take them out of there, you know?"
He turned and looked at the swing again.
"Kind of like the swing," he went on. "I guess Momma just kept hoping that Nicole would come home and want to swing on it again."
Madison leaned against him and he put his arm over her shoulder. She grabbed his hand and held it tightly.
"I was so mad at her," Madison said quietly. "How could she get sick right before my birthday?"
"I remember," he said, still crying. "I remember how upset she was that she wasn't going to get to go to your birthday party, but Momma said she had to go to the hospital."
He let go of her and she walked over to the swing and straddled it. She smiled up at him and slowly began to swing.
Inwardly, he groaned. Madison was unwittingly exposing her cotton-covered crotch to his eyes.
"What you looking at, Yohnny?" she teased and he cleared his throat and looked away.
So, it was not unwitting. She knew very well what she was doing.
She stopped swinging and spun around on the swing a few times, then let the swing slowly twirl her the opposite direction. The slight centrifugal force caused her short black skirt to rise up, again exposing her panties to him.
"I was so mad," Madison went on. "Then when she died the day after my birthday...."
"Actually, Madison," he said and blew his nose. "Actually, she died the morning of your birthday. I begged them not to tell you; I didn't want you to know."
She burst into sobs and he knelt down and held her as she sobbed.
She sat at the kitchen table while Johnny fixed them a cup of coffee.
"Why?" she finally asked. "Why'd you make them wait until the day after my birthday?"
"'Cause," he hesitated. "'Cause I loved you. You were my baby sister's best friend ever."
He put the coffee mugs down and slid one over to her.
"Madison, you remember? Remember when Colie lost all her hair?"
She smiled at that memory.
"The chemo had made all her hair fall out. She cried and cried how ugly she looked," he said and sat down heavily.
"My mama was so mad!" Madison giggled at the memory.
"Madison! What on God's earth?" Amanda Marcoloni screamed as Madison came out, brown hair in patches.
She'd taken the heavy scissors from the sewing kit and tried her best to cut her long brown hair completely off, just like Nicole's. Nicole had cried and cried when Madison visited her about how ugly she looked. Madison wanted Nicole to see, she wasn't ugly. Hair or no hair, Nicole was Nicole.
Joseph took Madison down to the barbershop and explained to the man what his daughter was trying to do. The man kissed the girl on her cheek, told her she was a big girl and lathered up her head. A few swipes of his razor, and Madison were just as bald as Nicole.
"No charge," the barber said. "I'm be praying to God your friend, that she get better."
By the time they returned home from the barbershop, Amanda had calmed down and told her daughter she was proud of her.
"Nicole wouldn't stop laughing at me," Madison smiled and sipped the coffee.
"I remember a little girl that loved her best friend so much she shaved her head for her," Johnny smiled and sipped his own coffee. "I never ever stopped loving that little girl."
Madison looked up at him.
"I'm not a little girl any more," she said quietly.
"No, no you're not," he said.
If I, Yohnny, if we ever have a little girl, I promise, we'll name her Nicole.
He looked at her for a long moment.
"What?" he finally asked.
"Yohnny," she said, silently praying for strength. "Yohnny, we, Nicole and I, we loved you so much, you were our very own superhero, we both wanted to grow up and marry you."
She got up and looked out the back window.
"We'd sit up in that playhouse, pretending that we were cooking dinner for you, waiting for you to come home from work," she smiled and pointed at the tree house. "Then we'd pretend we were kissing you and being asleep with you; that's where babies come from, when people sleep together and we'd give you a million babies."
"A million?" he laughed.
"A million," she smiled. "We loved you, wanted more than anything to make you happy."
She turned around and looked at him.
"Yohnny," she said. "I still love you; I still want to make you happy."
"Madison," he said, slightly surprised. "I'm thirty five years old! You're only, what? Only..."
"I'm twenty one years old now, Yohnny," she said, her lip beginning to quiver.
"See?" he said and slapped the table. "'Yohnny.' Colie called me that 'cause she couldn't say the 'Jay' sound. Yohnny. That's what a little girl called me, called me years and years ago."
"We called you that because it was OUR name for you," Madison said, beginning to cry. "No one else could call you that; just us."
"But, Madison, I'm just a..." Johnny said.
"A wonderful man that did everything he ever could to make a little girl happy," Madison cried.
"She was my sunshine," Johnny said. "She was my sun and my moon."
"I wanted to kill Linda," Madison admitted. "When you and her got married, I wanted to kill her."
"Well, too late now," he smiled. "Wish I'd known that when we was getting a divorce."
Then he grew serious.
"But Madison," he said. "I'm thirty five, going to be thirty six on..."
"January ninth," she said.
"Yeah, January ninth," he smiled. "What would you want with some old guy like that? You're only twenty one, hell you're still in college."
"Graduated four days ago, Yohnny," she smiled and walked toward him.
"What?" he asked, surprised. "You just graduated from high school!"
"Yeah, Yohnny," she laughed. "Back in Two thousand and two! It's two thousand five, remember?"
"Still want to be a nurse, right?" he asked and lightly put a hand on her slender waist.
"Nicole and I thought they were the most beautiful women in the whole world," Madison smiled at that memory. "They had the most beautiful uniforms, all white, just like angels."
She put her small hand on his big one and smiled.
"Got my degree; I start at Women's and Children next week," she said. "Oncology ward; I want to help the Nicolas of Lafayette as much as possible."
She fanned her hands through her long brown hair.
"Kiss this good-bye," she smiled. "Shaving my head again."
"What?" he laughed. "Why?"
"So them kids can see that being bald ain't so bad," she smiled. "I'm donating the hair to Locks of Love; they make wigs for children with cancer."
She looked at him for a long moment.
"You never did answer me," she said quietly.
"What was the question?" he asked, puzzled.
"If we have a little girl," she reminded him. "Yohnny, I'm asking you to be the father of my little girl. I'm still a, I never did sleep with anyone, I just couldn't take the chance of them accidentally being the first, being the one to give me a little Nicole."
Madison Arcenoux looked out the back window at little Johnny junior. The three-year-old boy sat at the small table that his daddy had built for his mommy and her best friend and slowly, carefully scribbled on the pieces of paper his mommy had given to him. He was pretending to be in school, learning to be a nurse like his mommy or a homebuilder like his daddy.
From his crib, Nicholas cried. Madison walked to the crib and checked the ten-month old child's diaper; it needed changing. She did so quickly, kissed him, made gnawing and smacking sounds and told the giggling baby she was going to eat him up.
Johnny appeared in the doorway and smiled at his wife and child.
"What are you doing with my boy?" he asked and she smiled up at him.
"The same thing I'm going to do with you," she smiled and pretended to bite his arm.
She looked up at him with absolute devotion.
"Still late," she said. "Think this one might be a little girl?"