The ghosts of the past are colliding with the present. I feel like I am in a temporal rift, walking along these roads of my childhood. The house colors are off, some faded, some not quite right. The children I see playing, merge with those I remember playing with. I see similarities. "Oh, that's Mary!" I raise my hand, only to drop it after I realize the girl is not who I thought. My mind plays tricks on me, in its quest to find firm ground, mingling past with present.

Turning down the next road, I look at the sign. Where am I? SweetBriar. A face and a name fly forward with a whoosh. Scott. I have not thought of him in over twenty five years. Warm rush of something.

It is Autumn, leaves crunching on the ground, cold air redding up the tip of my nose. I am 10. There is woodsmoke, I smell it. He is rosy apple cheeks and laughter that never ends. I am sad he doesn't go to our school, but also glad. I don't have to share him with anyone.

I run up to him poking him in the shoulder. "Tag! you're it!" I fly away. I am faster. He cannot catch me, not unless I let him. He is grinning, panting hard behind me. I turn for a quick glance over my shoulder and WHOMP, I am floored into a pile of leaves. When did he get so fast?

Earthy smell of leaves, fill my nostrils. I am breathing hard, looking up at the sky through sparsely leaved branches. Heavy weight on top of me, crinkling leaves between. His face suddenly masks the sky, windchime laughter and then not. Quick thick squishy mouth pressed onto my own. Huh? Moment stuck on pause. I like it. Should I like it? Moment moves forward.

"Hey!" I roll over grabbing him with me so that I end up on top. Hand swipes drool off face then both hands pin him down.

"Whatcha do that for?"

"I dunno. I felt like it." Sheepish face.

Before I could come up with a response, his chuckling mom was at the door winking at her friend with the big hair. "Ready for some hot chocolate you two?"

"With marshmallows? You bet!" Scott calls, struggling to get up.

I stuff some leaves up his sweatshirt for good measure, before jumping up and running away towards his kitchen, grinning. "Gotcha last!" I toss over my shoulder, slamming the door behind me.

The echoes drift away and I am sweating beneath August's humid sun, paused before the same house, now blue. There are two kids rollerblading with hockey sticks out front. A boy and a girl jockeying against each other to get the plastic puck. She knocks him down, landing on top triumphant. When she looks up at me, I wink with the same smile Scott's Mom used. She looks at me puzzled then shrugs. She'll get it in time. We all do.

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