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I feel a small twinge of some emotion as I look out of the large double-paned window of our pale-green kitchen. I stand in front of the wooden dinner table, less than a foot us to the window. I can see my breath fog up the window as I drum my fingers on the window's ledge. If I reach up, I can barely brush my fingers against the top edge and I can come within inches of touching both of the side edges of the window at the same time if I spread my arms out. The outside is covered in small brown spots. I can see the three houses across the street and two up the hill, as well as the yard of my neighbor to the left, where my best friend lived. My neighbors could see my outline if they tried. A gray-white paints the sky, and the trees have no leaves. The sun doesn't even threaten to shine through the clouds. It is weak and sad, an unfinished drawing. Wind rustles the branches, but I hear no noise, I only see them bobbing back and forth. Our flower box spreads out in front of me, completely barren, only the dirt. I could touch it if the window wasn't there. All the driveways are empty, all the doors closed, the only sign of life is an unfamiliar child, probably about five or six, in a red puffy coat walking her black dog with her dad. A large brown circle marks the grave of the 'bunny' bush that was killed and removed. A little sun-bleached orange swing blows feebly around in the wind. One of the supporting straps is broken, but no one bothers to fix it. The tree that swing is supported on leans to one side, feeling the sadness of a missing purpose. Even the grass is yellow, sprinkled with twigs from the great black maple tree that looms in the center of my yard. Only that twinge of emotion keeps me looking out at the view. I'm not sure what it is. Disappointment? Sadness? Loneliness? Emptiness? Or perhaps I feel the truth. Truth that those days I remember so clearly and hopefully may never return to me again. Truth that I will never be as free as I once was. Truth that I will never be who I want to be, an innocent child.

But I am not ready to listen to that truth. I don't want it to be what it is: truth. I deny that I will never be tiny again. I deny that I cannot reverse time. Instead, I return myself to the days not too long ago that the grass was green and the sky was blue. When the tree was more brownish and the leaves were so green that I couldn't imagine their absence. All the garages had cars in them, or the driveways had small children playing in them, like me. When the impatiens in the flower box sang out proudly with pinks and reds and whites. When that swing was used and more orange. That unfamiliar child is not born yet and the bunny bush is filled with bunnies. When squirrels and birds litter the ground (living of course). When the very window I was standing at seemed to be twice as large as it was now because of my size. A specific memory clouded over the scene of my neighborhood, bringing me back to place I wish I still was in. Not a place, a time I wish I still was in. I sit impatiently on my couch in the middle of June. I have just received a phone call from my best friend and next door neighbor, Kezia saying that she would like it if we could play today. I wait for her to come to the door, I know it can't be a long wait. After only twenty seconds I stand up and rush to the door, only one second before Kezia comes. I hide beneath the window above the door and wait for the doorbell to ring. When it does I pop up to surprise her, and open the door. Her eyes sparkle out from a tan face, framed by short and smooth brown hair. We both giggle and then I run to grab my shoes. She waits patiently, and then we run to decide what to do. The day is pleasantly warm and soothing. The sun smiles down on us, begging me to play. There is a shady spot under the maple tree if we ever want to sit, but we are too excited to be in the sun. We take some time deciding what to do. We consider the hula hoop, the chalk, the jump rope, the trampoline, and the scooters before we decide. Our decision is always a final compromise of our ideas. So what was it? The dress up game. We never played dress up like other people did, or at least in our opinion. It was never deciding what to dress up as, but who would dress up as who. We always had the same few choices. The dragon, the princess, the bunny, and the yellow tutu girl. We roped in her brother, who was the dragon, and we became the bunny and the princess. After placing the slippery pink dress over my clothes, we ran outside to play. We started on Kezia's porch, running around and giggling, and then came to my yard, racing around trees and pretending that the heroic bunny saved the princess from the dragon, and all sorts of things. We stopped when we were tired to sit down.

Suddenly, the image vanishes and the desolate day snaps back to me. I feel my eyes water and can picture them shimmering with the days not forgotten. I walk painfully over to my red photo album, and look at the pictures inside. Flipping through the recent ones to the older ones, the sunny ones, the perhaps, I dare to think, pretend ones. A young girl with shining light brown hair and dark hazel eyes threatening to be brown smiled up in almost all of them. The one where the boy next to me was blowing his nose, and the one where I looked proudly up at the camera with my penny smiley face. The one where I stood in my mixed up swimsuit and the one that made me look like I was sneezing when the picture was taken. The time I had been cleaning out the garage and found an old camera with only two shots left, and took one of my finger. I panic as I flip through faster and faster, until I reach the end, without finding the photo I was hoping for. Those days really are gone, along with the picture I am imagining. Where could it be? I love that picture so much! I know it is somewhere. The idea that those days could not be frozen in time as I had attempted shook me. Emptiness grips me from the inside. I feel like something has scratched the last bit of the past from me, like scraping the last little bit peanut-butter out of the jar. The tears were pouring out, but they were silent. Finally an idea struck. I turn to my scrapbook, the one I made a long time ago and turned to the first page. I almost close it again in pain when I see a little girl in a Blues Clues birthday hat blowing out four candles on a white cake with roses and a girl with pudgy arms wearing a beautiful blue dress with pink flowers struggling to stand without the aid of the couch. I continue flipping pages, through my first day of first grade, to the time I fell asleep on the couch after my bath, to the time I had sat in the middle of the house in a sled with my sister. Through my field trip in second grade and the special picture I drew and painted in third grade. I close it again as I come to the picture of a tiny girl in a dutch girl costume looking openmouthed up at the camera while holding a beautiful white hydrangea flower outside. Finally, after so much pain of days so far away, I allow myself to open the book again. This time I opened up to a page the had 'Playing with the Neighbors' written in a shaky and crooked hand. The first photo is the one I was trying to remember. A little boy with a tan face sat in front of a flower box. Magenta, red, and white flowers all poked their way into the picture from behind him. The little boy was wearing a green full body costume with a yellow belly and a dragon's head hood. Next to him sat a little girl, squinting out at the camera with the same light brown hair. Two blue straps ran over her sunburnt shoulders, but the rest of her body was covered by a slippery hot pink princess dress. A lopsided necklace reached her stomach and the white puffs of the shoulders of her dress sagged down to her upper arm. To her right a slightly taller girl sat with darker brown hair hanging only just above her neck sat with her legs crossed in a bright white bunny costume. All of the young children's feet were bare and a little dirty. They looked tired as the sunshine bounced off of them. They looked a bit red, but their smiles gave away the fact they were waiting to jump right back up to play again when they were ready. I close the book immediately, but it did nothing as the picture had long been burned into my brain. I forever had known what the picture was like, and could still tell exactly what we looked like from memory. With it always comes the memory of that day I had been remembering, just a vivid as the first time. But that story was done, I can't bear to try to recollect after that. I walk slowly back to my double paned window, the day is just as dreary. The sky still looks hollow, like it might just suck up the color if you tried to paint it. The sun still hides behind the thick jungle of clouds. Nothing is really different than how it was a little while ago. I can still imagine where the 'For Sale' sign stood in my best friend's yard. I realize how much I need to have that memory. I feel how much I had begun to sweat when I couldn't see the picture and how wet my cheeks are. I still hug my scrapbook to my chest and I sit down to stare out the window once more. I can feel it pressing firmly against my chest, and although the spiral binding is thin, bent, plastic, the cover is hard and sturdy. Almost like it will always be there for me. The cover is blended with orange, yellow and red, and inside the there's a rainbow of colors, greens, blues, purples. All the missing colors of today. My scrapbook kept the colors as bright as they used to be. I close it again, and press it against my face. There's a faint smell, and at first, I think of books. I correct myself in a moment, it smells of stories. Stories frozen in little frames, pictures worth their thousand words. It smells of memories worth thousands of those pictures.

I can clearly see the sun-less sky and the leafless trees. The missing bunny bush and the empty orange swing. But this time, just as clearly, and almost ghost-like, there are three small children sitting in full costume in front of that very flower box. To them, the sky is blue, there are vibrant flowers at their backs, and the sun is so bright, it's blinding. Everything is green and alive, and they hear the sounds of their neighbors enjoying the fresh summer air, even if to me right now, it is only winter. I stay to watch the window, the children laughing and having fun. I remember only faintly what I felt that day, but the I watch again the day I had so long ago, through my window, unaware of the runner who sees me staring into nothingness. This time, a different and powerful feeling keeps me there. It seems as though I've colored in all the pictures, and I'm admiring my masterpiece. At my window, just tall enough that I can barely touch the top, just wide enough that I can't touch both sides at once, and just a window, old enough to let me see a much loved memory.




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