Her mother used to tell her not to go into the woods across the street.
“Not ever, not never”.
Which puzzled Bernadine, because really, wasn’t saying “not never” the same as saying
“you could go any time” …. or “you should go right now”?
But her mother’s tone of voice suggested otherwise.
So the woods across the street stood alone and lonely for all 8 years of Bernadine’s life.
She never, ever ventured even a toe into those woods, not even when the bigger kids from down the street said that the woods were a shortcut to the store on the corner.
Not even when the kids from up the street, some of them who were even smaller than her, played hide and seek in the woods just before the 9 pm dark hour of long summer nights.
Never ever. Not ever, not never did she go into the woods across the street.
But then her mom went away. For ever and ever.
And her dad didn’t seem to care if Bernadine went into the woods across the street.
Her dad didn’t seem to care about anything at all.