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by tom scarpelli

It was one of those steamy summer nights when warm winds tickle the trees and children giggle and dodge while playing tag. It was a night to stand on a deserted street corner and dance barefoot with one's shadow across the soft grass. It was a time for flinging oneself into frenzied cartwheels and wild somersaults on the lawn, then standing dizzily to stare at the heavens.

I sat on the curb under the street lamp, hummed softly to myself, and thought back to happier times. It seemed like a lifetime ago when I had been a little boy playing kick-the-can while our parents gossiped on the patio. We would take turns closing our eyes and leading each other under the low hanging tree branches. The leaves would brush against our faces and we would scream or jump nervously.

The dark had been friendly that evening, as it so often was. The night fragrance made me long for immaturity and no responsibilities. To feel the blood from my nose when a softball hits me squarely in the face. To reach for the glass in my foot, the sand in my hair, the water
balloon down my back. Most of all, I miss watermelon cramps.

It was the same kind of night as those restless, happy childhood nights, but I could no longer have childish fun. My old friends were no longer friends. We had grown apart like branches on a tree, and although our ages were identical, we were different. They had plunged into the water before checking the depth. It was a pity they had been so senseless.

I had remained in Never-Never Land to finish my childhood but they preferred to end theirs prematurely.
So I sat alone on the curb rather than rush with them into the years that were inevitable. And I could not help but get a dull sickness in the pit of my stomach as I looked down at my shadow on the street and cried for the summers of childhood my friends were missing and the ones I would miss from now on.


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