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Where We Used To Go
That was our place. That old shed. When I went back home I walked through the woods only to see a cookie cutter development house in its place. I didn’t investigate. They were happy. Children were playing outside. For Christ sake’s they were having a barbeque. I stayed behind the trees, lurking as you would say.
I thought of you as I turned to go back. You would have talked to the people, told them about our place, our getaway. I stepped on a bug and its yellowish guts pressed into the ground. It was beautiful and crazy at the same time. It could have had a family and a home and in an instant because of a thick-soled shoe under the weight of a heavily burdened man its life was over.
This is what it’s like to be God, to take a life and to dwell on the consequences. What happens to bugs? Where do they go when they die? I think of the years you spent studying bugs in your amateur way with your nets and magnifying glasses. You would have cried about the dead bug.
Seeing you in the back of my mind now makes me want to cry. I feel so bad about the bug I am likely to not be able to eat for the rest of the day. I remember when my dad died. I was twelve. You were ten. You came over almost every day.
We read aloud our favorite books, well mine anyways-The Catcher in the Rye. You always thought Salinger was some sort of child-watcher. You stayed though and listened. You giggled at every swear and cried at all the right parts. You didn’t like to read, but you admired my books.
Books were my friends in a lonely house and their words shielded me after the loneliness turned into death and you would pull each and every one of them from the shelf and examine the titles on their spines.
You didn’t go to my school; you just lived down the street. Your house was worse than mine, so you were always over. I had a swing set and you would push me on it. Swings made you sick. You always just watched and laughed throwing your head back when I started going faster and higher.
Then we’d go to our place in the woods. That’s where you kept your bugs. Some had pins through their stomachs, holding them in place. You hated doing that, but the bugs you found were mostly dead already.
I remember you thrashing through mud puddles in your red galoshes. They were shiny and smelled of rubber. You loved those shoes. You got them one year for Christmas and you could hardly ever be found without them.
Once in our shed we could be whoever we wanted. The adults weren’t there to stop us. You’d be Marie Antoinette to my Louis XVI, when I was George Peppard you were Audrey Hepburn. She was your favorite. You resembled her with your tall, boyish figure and kind eyes.
Sometimes we took snacks. We could never stay long enough. We never could have, there was never enough time. If we had forever we would still never want to leave. It was a magical place, free of judgment, meanness, and phoniness and it returned all of our love by always being there and open to us. One day in our shed the rain poured down and you asked me if I believed in magic. I did. I still do, but in an attempt to sound cool and older I said no and made you so very angry. You knocked over displays of butterflies and roaches and broke glass jars full of rich dirt. You picked up a broken shard of glass and scraped it across my arms. Seeing what you had done, the blood so fresh and new, you burst into tears and ran away from our place. When my mother saw my arms that night she took me to a doctor and I stayed there for a very long time.
When I got home your family had left, moved away. Thinking about this now depresses me so I go home, to the house of my childhood where my mother still lives. I tell her that I’m feeling lousy and I’m going to lie down, she pets my face and tells me she loves me. I hear her tell a friend from church, “It’s a real shame. He was always such a nice boy, but he never had any friends.” I close my eyes and think about how much I missed you after you left.