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Abby of Long Leaf Lane - A Buzby Beach Short Story

DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.


Our new house in the town of Buzby Beach technically faced Long Leaf Lane. Long Leaf Lane was a narrow, paved road barely wide enough for two cars to pass by each other. The house itself was a three-bedroom split level with a one-car garage. The family room was on the lowest level, even with the garage. The kitchen, with a breakfast nook, the dining room, and the living room were on the mid-level. A master bedroom with a full bath, two smaller bedrooms of equal size, and a second full bath filled the top floor.

My mother let us into the house through a pedestrian door built next to the garage door. Kira’s stroller barely fit through the doorway. The stroller, and our shoes, were left by the door from the garage to the family room.

Before we went into the house proper, my mother showed me the laundry area and a half-bath with a toilet and a large mop sink.

We entered the family room, and the first thing that struck me was the sliding glass door on the wall opposite the garage. The glass doors looked out onto a patio shielded from nosy neighbors by a six-foot-high shadow-box privacy fence.

“Follow me, and I’ll show you your room,” my mother instructed.

My room was the bedroom directly across from the top of the stairs. The second bedroom, which would become Kira’s bedroom, was to the left. Across from her room was a full bathroom we would eventually share. The master bedroom was through the second door on the right.

My room was what my mother called cozy. There was room for my twin bed, dresser, a chest of drawers, and a small student desk. There wasn’t a lot of empty floor space to spread out on, though, and the closet was not what I would call spacious.

“I know it’s not as big as your old room,” my mother said when she showed me the space. “I think you’ll like it, though. And the window does look out towards the ocean.”

She was right about the view of the ocean. If I looked out the window and down First Street toward the beach, I could make out the low dunes and the ocean beyond.

“I think I’m going to like it,” I told my mom. I was determined to like it because I knew my mom always dreamed of living at the beach, and this was her chance to realize her dream.

“As you can see, all your furniture is already here,” my mother pointed out. “I’ve put away all your clothes and things. All that’s left is for you to sit down at your desk and get started on your homework.”

When I pouted, my mother said, “Yes, I heard your teacher. You’d better get to work. Try and get it all done before supper, please. After supper, I want the whole family to take a walk down to the beach.”


Thus was my introduction to my new house: through the garage, the family room, up four steps, the kitchen, turn right twice, up the stairs, and straight into my room. I only knew where the bathroom was because I’d caught sight of it on our way past while headed to my room.

I dropped all my school things on my bed and availed myself of the bathroom’s conveniences. Relieved from the pressure in my bladder, I returned to my room. I tackled my homework in the order Mrs. Cuthbert assigned it. My pencil punctuated the last answer to my fourth-grade science questions, and the doorbell rang.

My face scrunched in puzzlement, and I tapped the pencil against the paper again. The doorbell rang a second time. Amazed, I tried a third time. No doorbell. Instead, I heard my mother open the front door.

“Hello,” my mother said. “How can I help you?”

I cocked my ear toward my open bedroom door; the better to overhear what was going on downstairs. My eyes bugged out in surprise at the voice that replied to my mother’s question.

“Hi. You’re Mrs. Davids, right, Wil’s mom? I’m Abby Cuthbert. Wil’s in my class at school. My mom is our teacher.”

“Hello, Abby,” my mother replied. “It’s nice to meet you. Won’t you come in?”

“Thank you,” I heard Abby say. By this time, I was up out of my chair and standing in the doorway to my room. “Is Wil home?”

“He’s upstairs doing his homework,” my mother informed our young guest.

I hurried back to my desk before my mother made it to the bottom of the stairs and called up for me to come down to greet our visitor.

“I’ll be right there,” I replied. An odd combination of nervousness and excitement coursed through me. Why was Abby at my house? Did her mother send her? Had I forgotten something at school? Was I in trouble for punching Chad even though he deserved it?

Abby was standing at the bottom of the stairs next to my mother. Kira was standing between them, looking up at Abby with wide-eyed curiosity. Abby smiled and waved.

I descended the stairs at what I thought was an appropriate pace somewhere between rushing to see why Abby was there and dragging my feet because I feared why Abby might be there.

“Hi, Abby,” I said when five steps from the bottom. “How did you know where I live?”

Abby tilted her head, and her lips twisted into the odd frown on the left, smile on the right that I would come to recognize as her trademark expression for, ‘seriously, you had to ask that.’

“My mom’s a teacher,” Abby replied in a tone making it clear I should have realized the obvious. “She knows all her kids’ addresses.”

“Yes,” my mother said. “I suppose she would.”

Abby pointed toward our dining room. “We live at the other end of Long Leaf Lane. My mom said she thought it would be nice if I came down to say hello and see if Wil needed any help with his homework.”

“How very considerate of your mother,” my mother said. “I’m sure Wil appreciates the offer, don’t you, Wil?”

Wil's Mom

Wil's Mom

My mother could be subtle when she chose. She could also be like a blunt instrument when she wanted to be sure I wouldn’t miss her point.

“Yes, ma’am, I would. Can Abby come up to my room?”

My mother gave me one of her patented single nods. “Keep the door open.”

Saying, ‘keep the door open,’ was my mother’s way of giving permission and communicating a warning about what behavior would and would not be tolerated.

“Yes, ma’am,” Abby and I replied in chorus. I looked at Abby and swept my arm to show I expected her to lead the way. “My room is the one straight ahead at the top of the stairs.”

Abby stopped inside the door to my room and surveyed my domain. My digs evidently met with her approval.

“You have a nice room,” she said before moving on in and over toward the desk.

“It’s okay,” I said as I followed her. “If you look out the window over the desk, you can see the beach.”

Abby looked out the window. “Nice view.” She glanced down at my notebook. “How much homework have you finished?”

“I just got done with the Science. I was going to start on Spelling next.”

Abby nodded her approval. “I did all mine while my mom was going over the math papers and working on her lesson plans.” She smiled at me and added, “You got all the multiplication problems right. No one else in the class did. Not even Pam.”

“I’ve always been good at math,” I said, pride filling my chest.

“How good are you at Spelling?” Abby asked, picking up my spelling book and sitting on the edge of my bed.

“Just as good as I am at math,” I bragged.

She opened the book to the first lesson and said, “Let’s see.”

Abby called out the first week’s spelling words, and I spelled them for her. When we finished the list, she closed the book. “You already studied these words, didn’t you?”

“No,” I told her honestly. “Not since your mom went over them in class.”

“Let’s switch,” Abby said. “You read off the words, and I’ll spell them for you.”


I was about to call out the third word when my mother called up the stairs to let me know supper was almost ready.

“Your father is on his way home, Wil,” she called up the stairs. “We’ll eat as soon as he gets home.”

This was an example of my mother being subtle. She was letting me know it was time for Abby to go home. Abby and I exchanged a look that said she understood my mother’s unspoken message as well as I did.

“I should probably get going anyway,” Abby said as she got to her feet.

“I’ll walk you to the door,” I offered.

She smiled and nodded.

At the front door, I started to say, “Good-bye,” at the same instant, Abby said, “Maybe I’ll see you later.” We both laughed.

“You first,” I insisted.

“Okay,” Abby said. “What I was going to say is, maybe I’ll see you later. My family usually goes down to the beach for a little while after supper. Why don’t you see if your parents want to, too?”

“I think we already are,” I said. “My mom mentioned it earlier before you came over.”

“Cool,” Addy said, clapping her hands, her smile broadening. “I’ll see you there.”

“Sure,” I replied.” See you there.”

We stood on the porch smiling at each other for a long awkward second. Then, Abby shrugged and said, “Okay, I should get going.”

“Right,” I agreed. “And I should get inside. My dad will be home any minute, and I know he’ll have a ton of questions about the first day of school.”

A funny feeling started to spread down my arms. I looked up at Abby, and she lifted her hands toward me. I thought she was going to try to hug me. To fend off the possibility, I reached out and shook her hand.

“Thanks for coming over.”

Abby stared at our clasped hands for a long second. Slowly, she raised her chin until our eyes met. Some signal passed between us, but I couldn’t make any sense of it then. We stood there, our hands joined, eyes locked until the honking of a horn broke the spell.

Abby pulled her hand away and hurried down our front steps. I turned and watched my father pull into the driveway.

© 2021 DW Davis