It’s been quite a long time since I told a story. I think I can take a moment to come up with one from my childhood.
Two a.m. The darkness should have kept us in our beds. It should have kept our eyelids closed and our thoughts focused on dreams of roller coaster rides and vats of cotton candy. When the sun rose in the late morning, we would head to the amusement park. Yet this early morning still sheltered the night with its dim moon and pinpricks a higher being had caused to create the starry sky.
One giggle ruined dream time. Two giggles coaxed us out of beds. The third giggle told us the coast was clear.
As well as it should be, since both parents were out of the house. The father worked sixteen-hour shifts at the steel mill. The mother had taken a part-time job at the nursing home to make a few extra dollars on the side. They left the oldest child as the guardian of the younger two children, while she was still young herself. It was cheaper to just assume her monthly allowance had obligated her to whatever task sprung up without having to pay the child extra.
We crept from beds and grabbed flashlights from shelves and drawers. Pools of light flicked on and spotlighted the ceiling as we stood them on their ends everywhere around the living room. We gathered at the center of the carpet: oldest child taking a stationary role, middle child and the youngest child standing on opposite sides.
“BANG,” the oldest child shouted.
Middle and youngest began jogging in slow motion, our arms pumping slowly as if we ran on the bottom of the ocean floor. We chased each other in a circle around the oldest of us who played her role of a stadium commentator for the GREATEST RACE HELD ON EARTH!
We ran, the middle child and the youngest, while never catching strides with the other. We jumped imaginary hurdles or crawled under barbed wire created by the oldest child’s imagination. We threw arms out, hurling air grenades to blow up our competitor, or stuck out foots to trip them up. The middle child was in the lead until the youngest drove a flaming bus over them. Then the youngest was in lead until the middle child threw a shark into her hair. Two hours would pass until tired feet forced the runners to slow, crawl on knees, and then stop as we made shadow puppets on the ceiling.
Nobody, of course. This was the GREATEST RACE HELD ON EARTH! A mere two hours would never be long enough to decide a true winner despite that this was the twentieth time we had the race. Flashlights whisked off the counters and tables to point toward dark doorways.
Three yawns congratulated the runners for the race. Two yawns jotted down our next nighttime meeting. One yawn said we would see each other tomorrow for a breakfast of flapjacks and syrup before we would head to the amusement park.
Four a.m. The darkness wrapped over us in beds as the shadows kissed us goodnight.
We were such kooky kids!