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"I know that we are still getting prepared for the battle, but the gadgets show the water enemies are approaching the battle area..." I screamed, over the tiny men and woman apprentices in our tribe. "We will win this battle and live in peace and happiness forever!" An imaginary storm of cheers arose from the back to the front of the pack of people, or whatever they were, while their little swords poked into the whispy air. I hopped off the ginormous tree stump as my brother and I traded a hard high-five that melted into a race down to the shore. I stopped as my mind cast back to reality, and I remember that we weren't allowed to go to the water by ourselfs. I pointed to the blank ocean. "Gray-Wolf, they're coming!

This was just one of the memorable adventures I shared with Graydon, my brother. We also performed fashion mud shows, when we rolled around in slimy dirt, soaked our t-shirts, and then raced to our secret path. The entryway was filled with hundreds of ticks, but that didn't faze us, as we trampled the over broken glass, remnants of an old junkyard. We stomped together, barefoot.

And I remember when Mom and I pretended to be the farm girls, and Graydon and I gazed out to the stars and made strange shapes out fo them. I remember tackle wars, when Frodo the psycho dog shrededed our clothes: now he paces around the house, a fat, juicy tongue hanging low out of his mouth. I remmber how our family played hide and find with my favorite stufffy, my favorite toy, which we eventually lost. And I remember the Wizard of Oz phase, and how Graydon and I memorized every single line. Of course, I was always Dorothy.

Recalling these moments shows me that people change. We grow up. But I still question why the fun has to stop. Why did I have to lose my instant friend, who was always there to create special memories with me, cheer me up, and play with me? What happened between now and then between Graydon and me?

Today I gaze out a window at the abandoned corner of our yard, where the splintered arch is slumped over with a grape vine swirled up and looped around invisitble slivers of wood. The smell of struggling flowers budding with pink and purple swirls into an ocean, just waiting to be swum in. This combination once gave us adventure. But where is Graydon? And anther memory drifts into my mind.

"Graydon, the apprentices must be waiting!" I screamed, mouthing the words as I slurped up hot spaghetti, splattering red tomato sauce over the blue and white Kitty dress Mom had made for me, staying up until midnight sewing it. WIthin seconds we were flying over huge, rupturing roots and stopping at the arch. We were transported as we tiptoed into the one and only land that I ever created. My name here was Raven, one that Graydon, a.k.a. Wolf, had picked out for me. Now, I realize - and regret - how much our relationship has changed since then. A typical morning reveals the difference.

"You always get the front seat?" I complain.

"But I called shotgun first." Gradoon's bottom squeezes into the seat. He's happy because he got it first. Mom slams the garage door hard in a jurry to get out of the house, her wispy flung back and a cold breeze swerving around her.

"We're late!" Mom reminds us as she hurries towards the bus. "Please get in the car, Gabrielle." As always, I end up in the back seat, staring out the window, trying to think of balloons before I have to get on the obnoxious bus. In the background I hear a mumble of my next best invention; different car mirrors, a new gas pumping system, a new computer program, a new way to travel, and more, along with philosophical questions like, "If someone told you that they could make something to transport people somewhere faster than ever but it could possilby end the world, what would you say?" Whan I take a glimpse from the foggy windows, I remember the special Graydon.

He makes the shot, whoosh! I applaud. A smile smeared across his sweaty face.

My clearest memories of my childhood are with me in my many Dorothy costumes, the cooking set with the mini-cakes and pies, trying on princess clothes, pretending to be Superman with bright red underwear worn over a blue leotard and clunky rain boots as my vision of a super hero, mud parties, tea parties on hot tar with mini-cups for my dolls, when my doll got cancer, dancing to never ending French music, and always running with my Wolf, and always the one and only transporting arch.





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