Growing up in a small town allowed me to get friendly with our neighbors every time we had to move to a different house. I grew up during an era where you didn’t have to lock your front door at night. Heck, most nights during a hot Louisiana summer we wouldn’t even close the door in the hopes a light breeze would makes its way through the house since we didn’t have air conditioning either. 

The last house I lived in before I graduated was next door to a lady named Rowena and her young son, Damian. Rowena worked at the local beauty shop and was a single mom. Not something you saw much back then, but she was friendly and seemed to have money for the kind of luxuries I could only dream of.

Sometimes when Rowena worked late she would ask me to babysit her son on the weekends. The first time she asked if I could watch Damian I was shocked to hear my mother give her permission. I was never allowed to go anywhere, but I suppose the fact I was a mature 12 year old and it was only for a couple of hours at the house next door, Mother was persuaded it was okay. It didn’t even matter much to me that any money I made would end up buying cigarettes for Mother…the freedom and independence from being away from the house was intoxicating enough.

Damian was about 6 at the time and a cute kid, but I quickly realized the first time I went over to his house that his station in life far exceeded anything I could ever hope to achieve. That kid had every toy known to man and I took full advantage of playing with as much of his stuff as I could. My favorite was the Fisher Price Family Play Farm. I could play with that thing for hours and even confess to loving the animal sounds coming from the barn doors as I swung them open to let the critters out.

But it was what was in the kitchen that kept me going back every chance I could. Rowena was an extremely indulgent host and told me I could eat anything  I wanted whenever I looked after Damian. Her son, not used to wondering where his next meal was coming from or what ingredients might be in it, was quite content to eat hot dogs when I came over. 

I, on the other hand, stumbled across one drawer in their refrigerator that literally stopped me in my tracks. Pound after delicious pound of chocolate candy was stuffed in one of the crisper drawers.  Free for the taking and take it I did. By the handful. To someone like myself who only saw candy on the rare holiday, I simply couldn’t fathom the reasoning behind having a treasure trove of goodies whenever the sugar high mood struck you.

I don’t remember much about those babysitting days beyond that toy farm and the candy, but I do remember two things…


  1. Damian never had any interest EVER in eating any of that candy.


  1. I knew Damian HAD to be an alien from outer space.


It was the only way I could figure out why he would turn his nose up at the chance to dive into all that chocolatey goodness…




HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover





donna - Copy


Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.


Donna L

Hybrid award winning author; aspiring sketch artist; and 4th Degree Senior Certified Taekwondo Instructor. Host of BOOK NOOK REVIEWS. Member of SCBWI. Mom to fabulous son and adventurer delving into the tricky world of indie-publishing.

3 thoughts on “TALES FROM THE BAYOU: The Kid Next Door

  • June 1, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Rowena’s car was a Pinto and I loved it. I would have loved some of that chocolate. But it was yours to enjoy.

  • June 1, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Janet, it just boggled my mind that Damien couldn’t care less about that chocolate. I’m presuming since he had 24/7 access to it, it had no appeal to him…;-)

    Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!


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