The children held a lemonade stand every Thursday in the summer months. They woke up early, just as the sun rose, pouring sour mixes into iced water. They dragged out a plastic table, set it next to the mailbox, sat in folding chairs, took turns cartwheeling and skateboarding down the hilled driveway. The children played hand games, sang make believe songs. They sat under the shade of tall trees. Their mother would tell them that they lived in the middle of the forest, and they did. There was no one to play with; there weren’t any other kids across the street. But this was their home, it always had been.
They made chocolate chip cookies on some Wednesday nights. They would take a couple outside to sell, but eat them instead. They took a lunch break around twelve, nibbled on hot dogs off the grill, sipped homemade iced tea. The kids rushed back to their chairs after finishing their food. Their mother would watch them through the bay window. She never understood why they insisted on this every week. No one ever came down the road they lived on; they hadn’t ever sold a glass of lemonade. But every Thursday during summer break, she woke up to find them already sitting at the bottom of the driveway. They spent Thursdays selling lemonade. Honeybees would come looking for the sweet smell, the children would scream, run away. They found water guns in the garage, fought until they were soaked and shivering. Their mother brought them towels. The sun began to set, the air got cooler. All of the cookies and lemonade were gone. The mosquitoes started biting, and there was no more room to draw tulips or bubble-letter names on the blacktop.
They dragged bikes out of the garage, rode them up and down the quiet street. Their mother called them in for dinner. The children hung their heads, and they trudged back indoors. They changed into pajamas, humming their make believe songs about monkeys and talking bananas. The stars shone in the dark sky, and their dad would bring out a telescope. He would show his children all the stars, telling them the name of each constellation he pointed to. The children would catch fireflies in their hands, peeking through their fingers at the glow. They would go back inside when their mother called, and fall asleep quickly. The children would spend the week in their pool, over friends’ houses, out at movies and birthday parties. But when Thursday came, the children woke hours before the sun. They would set the table outside just as the soft orange rays reached the blacktop.
The children are grown now; they’ve moved out of the house with the long driveway. They return to the house sometimes, finding tire tracks from bicycles, hearing the birds humming their old songs.
The honeybees still search for the sweet-smelling lemonade. The tall trees still make their canopy over the mailbox. The children ask their mother why she let them waste every Thursday. They ask her why they sat outside all day, why they returned every week, knowing they wouldn’t sell a single glass. She shakes her head. The children she watched from the front steps every Thursday would understand.
There are new children now, much younger than the other ones had been. They play hopscotch on the driveway. They are not yet old enough for lemonade stands.
Melissa Lauria is a 16 year old living in Long Island, New York. She serves as an editor of her High School literary magazine. She hopes to gain her Master's in Education, and teach in her home state.