When We Were Kids

The trip began at six in the morning.She arrived at the airport a seven, for a flight that left at eight. She was traveling alone, but she preferred it that way. She looked around at the people near her waiting for the plane. The majority of them were families with parents and small children, and even some grandparents. Regardless, they all had a destination in mind. But she didn’t have one, at least, not a mental destination. She knew where she was going, but she didn’t exactly know where she would end up.

When the boarding process began, and she walked onto the plane, she took her seat, and again witnessed the families struggling in the aisles to put their over-sized carry-ons  that no way fit within the size limit into the overhead bin. The majority of them appeared to be going to the beach in Mexico or Dominican Republic for vacation. She was a bit annoyed with the ignorance they showed, because to her, no one in the plane seemed to really understand the world. At least, they didn’t really understand her. Because she wasn’t going to the beach for vacation, she was heading  for an adventure. Or at least, what she hoped would be an adventure. In reality, she wasn’t sure what she was going to find, and as the plane took off towards the clouds, she wasn’t very excited; she was just afraid.

As she leaned back in her seat and tried to calm herself down, her mind drifted back to a few nights ago, one of the last nights before she had left for who knows how long…

***

She was sitting on the roof of her house above her bedroom, looking up at the star-filled sky above her, when her best friend and neighbor came up behind her.

“I thought I would find you here” he said.

She jumped, and turned. When she realized it was him, she relaxed. “Hey” she said calmly.

He walked over to her, but didn’t sit down. “Can I show you something?” he asked.

“Of course” she replied. He took her hand and led her further up the roof. They climbed up the steep slant and over to the roof of his house and climbed a little higher, until they were sitting on the peak of the roof leaning against the chimney. The view was incredible. It was as if you could see every star in the sky.

“Wow, 18 years and you never showed this to me” she said.

“Yeah, I just liked to be alone sometimes. Isn’t it beautiful? If I had more time, I would spend my whole life up here.”

They sat in silence for a few moments, until he spoke again. “I wish you would change your mind about leaving this place.”

She didn’t answer; she didn’t even turn to look at him. The tone of her voice implied that he knew she wouldn’t change her mind.

“Do you remember when we were kids, and we used to run through those woods” he pointed out in the distance in front of them, “we used to try to climb every tree we could find.”

She laughed. She remembered those days so clearly. The days they would run for hours while their parents wondered where they were. “Of course I do. I miss feeling like that, like anything was possible.  I wish we could go back to those days.”

He rested one hand on her knee, and she turned her head to meet his eyes. His smile was surprisingly cheerful. She knew that he was putting up a front. “Do you want to try it one more time?”

She smiled, because she knew that there was no way she could say no to him.

They got down off of the roof and ran around the house to where her car was parked. Luckily, she had her keys in her pocket so they wouldn’t wake up her parents. Not that they would have cared; they weren’t kids anymore.

They drive as far into the woods as they could go, parked, and turned off the headlights.

“So which one should we climb?” he asked.

She looked around, trying to find the perfect tree. “How about that one?” she asked, pointing to a tall pine tree about twenty yards away from them.

“Looks perfect, I’ll race ya!”  he said, and he took off running.

“Hey” she yelled, as she ran to catch up.

Climbing up the tree was a lot easier than when they were kids. She extended her arms and her hands effortlessly found the branches. When she got to the top, hewas already sitting on a branch looking at the city skyline in the distance.

“I don’t remember this” he said to her.

“I guess we couldn’t climb this high when we were kids.”

She climbed up a little higher and joined him on the branch. They sat in silence for a while, taking in the view that surrounded them.

“Do you remember when we were at lunch one day in middle school, and you poured milk on my head and I got so mad?” she asked.

He laughed. “Of course I remember. How could I forget?”

She didn’t laugh. “I should have laughed more. I should have laughed more at everything.”

He looked at her carefully, trying to read what was going through her mind. “Every memory I have of you; you were laughing” he said softly.

“We must have different memories” she replied.

He put is hand on top of hers. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

She didn’t say anything; she just looked out ahead at the city sky line,

“I guess you’re really leaving, then” he said.

“I’ll come back. I’ll bring you back something cool from all of the places I see” she said, trying to be cheerful.

“You’ll do amazing things, wherever you go.”

“She smiled softly and looked at him. “I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too. But I hope that you find whatever you’re looking for.”

They didn’t speak again for the rest of the night. They just looked ahead, at the city, at the stars, at the life that they had always known. She leaned her head on his shoulder, and took in his scent, his warmth, and the smell of the trees for the last time for a while. For how long, she wasn’t sure.

***

She woke up to the sounds of the cabin crew in the plane preparing for landing. She slowly sat up, rubbed her eyes, and pulled her seat back to upright position, stuck somewhere in between reality and a memory.

-LR

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