Growing Pains

The old wooden swing that hung from the tree swayed in the wind. It seemed that it had been forgotten. The rusty see-saw to the right of that swing was squeaky and beginning to rust.
All she could do was stand there and stare as memories delineated in her head. She seemed to hallow the yard as she realized the once unrecognized penchant. She remembered the laughter, the fights and the tears.
As she took a seat on the old ladder, looking up at the abandoned tree house, the idiosyncrasies of her childhood would’ve made her laugh, if tears hadn’t started to stream down her cheeks.
“Am I really ready?” she asked herself as she leaned her head on her knees.
She wasn’t sure. As a child, she had always believed she had a great acuity. But there was a nuance in that word. There was a definite change in that belief.
Climbing carefully up the ladder, hoping not to fall, she made it slowly to the top.
She entered the little house and looked around. Hanging on the wall she noticed a faded plaque.
As she brushed the dust off, the once-gold, engraved letters appeared: “Grow old, but never grow up.”
Words that were supposed to be encouraging, yet they seemed so overweening she couldn’t bear to read them.
She turned and ran down the ladder, and then she ran some more with nowhere to go.
But she couldn’t handle life right now, and she wanted to go far away, to a land with no worries or cares or fears. Someplace where she would be free and not feel depraved. She wanted to feel like a little girl again.
Soon the sky began to get dark and her run became just a fast walk. Smells of rose bushes and spring trees touched her senses as she walked on.
The stone path she traveled on seemed sumptuous and very familiar.
After walking on for what seemed like hours, she stopped for a quick rest, leaning against a tree.
There was nobody around, and the silence was both calming but foreboding.
Suddenly, from the darkened woods, came a small familiar face. The young girl, with braided hair, spoke in a gentle, innocent voice.
“Where are you going?” she inquired
“To be honest, I truly don’t know. I just don’t want to be where I was.”
“Why?”The little girl questioned.
“I don’t know. I’m just not ready. I’m…why am I telling you this? I don’t know you.”
“Yes you do. And you’re scared of not ever knowing me again. You’re scared that I’m going to leave you. But don’t be.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You want to be me again.”
And then she disappeared, and the journey was done.
The girl stood in the backyard, back where she began.
Had that all just been a dream? It had to have been. That was the only explanation for what she had seen. It’s not every day you see yourself the way you used to be.
And then, ubiquitously, she heard her younger voice.
“You know, it’s okay to grow old, but never grow up. Don’t be afraid. I promise I’ll--”
“You’ll always be in my heart and I don’t have to let go.”
And with that, the little girl appeared and smiled and waved.
She ran up the ladder and, halfway up, she disappeared again.
The girl understood.
She felt a tear fall from her eye, but she would not let herself sit here and cry, because everything would be alright.
She didn’t have to lose anything.
Grow old, but never grow up.





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