While eating and waiting for the sun to go down so that my friend could get out of class and we could get together, I watched the neighborhood children playing, running from one house to the next. Many of the small homes had bars on their windows, but their lawns were neat–not in the neat way that old folk’s and suburbanites yards are neat, but in the way that they were contained, tended to, and not overgrown. There was a general sense of upkeep. Families talking in the evening sun. A gentleman working on a garden.
I’m supposed to be outside because Miguel is getting in trouble. One little boy says, spinning a silver plastic gun with an orange tip around his finger.
Your parents fight a lot, his buddy says.
So do mine. A lot. And for a moment they look distant before the neighbor boy’s sister touches the other neighbor boy on the hand and he jumps back exclaiming that she touched him, She just touched my hand! He repeats himself and laughs and the girl in the skirt ducks and hangs against the fence and laughs.
Back away! They shout. Back away! And their laughter turns to teasing and bantering and running about the yard.And I remember long ago when I was their age and a girl’s briefest touch could mean the world and the game was dancing away and pointing and laughing and stealing hats and chasing them about a playground to get them back, where in the simple motion of running and laughing and smiling with a pretty girl, the world was a rush, a surge of excitement in the smallest things.
And I sat there and I reflected on the past and drank the nostalgia like I’d mixed it in my water bottle and shaken until it was frothy and I shook my head and tried to–
And then the street lamps turn on as if to match the disappearing sun exactly. The kids fade back into their homes. The neighbor boy and his sister’s mother comes out and places her hands on her hips and scolds them for their noise and ruckus and they wander inside before wanding back outside, lingering before closing up shop for good. A lone bat flickers and stumbles about against the purpling sky and eventually, when night has fallen completely, I get the call and drive a few blocks and leave it behind for conversation, catching up, and a couch to crash on.