The Long Girl

Connie Ragen Green
8 min readDec 30, 2021

She was the confident girl, blossoming into young adulthood and aiming for great things in her life…

Connie Ragen Green — The Long Girl

As they would say in Europe, she was a long girl. Taller than everyone else in our class, even the boys, and with short, dark wavy hair and bright hazel eyes, gangly and self-conscious in a way that made others uncomfortable. Her posture was terrible and when she came up to you it was with more of a lurch than a normal gait. We’d been good friends since I’d arrived as the new girl just before Christmas in second grade.

Once we had a photograph taken by her father in his home studio and I insisted on wearing a dress we’d found at a thrift store, with boys sneakers that made me appear two inches taller than I really was. But she spoke to me by name and maintained eye contact to show her interest, and for that I had great admiration and respect for Ethel. It was only when we got to 5th grade that our friendship began to unravel.

Ethel had everything that I lacked. She lived in a duplex just a block from school and had her own bedroom. Her mother didn’t work and was at home with the little sister, Bonnie, until school was out each day. Sometimes I’d be invited in for milk and cookies. Her mom served the milk in aluminum cups that came in different colors that she kept in the refrigerator. That milk was ice cold and it was perfect with any cookies she served with it. They also had an air conditioner that made the entire experience an incredibly satisfying one from start to finish, especially in the heat and humidity of south Florida.

Her father worked in a factory and didn’t come home until after dark. His passion was photography and he’d be up well past midnight working in the darkroom each night after spending time with the family. Ethel looked just like him, while little Bonnie was blond and blue-eyed like her mother. I was there one evening when he came in through the front door. We were studying the word list Mrs. Nairn had given us earlier that day for the upcoming spelling bee. That’s when I found out this upcoming event meant something very different to each of us.

“There’s my big girl,” her father said. He was smiling and Ethel ran to him and began to cry softly.

“The words are too hard, Daddy. I don’t think I want to do it.”

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Connie Ragen Green

Online marketing strategist, author, speaker, and publisher working with entrepreneurs on six continents. https://ConnieRagenGreen.com