The thing about daylight savings is that it takes so long to get dark in the summertime. And as kids in the suburbs we didn’t care that the farmers had an extra hour to tend to crops. Our overalls were for fashion and the only gardening I did was when my mother made me help her weed the cherry tomatoes on the side of the house.
Getting dark at a later time seems like it would be a good thing for young children, but for us it was torture because the second the sun slipped down behind the horizon we could have the thrill of playing Hide-and-Go-Seek in the dark.
Hide-and-Go-Seek is for little kids, unless its in the dark.
Once the last hint of twilight left our cul-de-sac I would walk to my friend Leslie’s house at the beginning of the neighborhood and we would assess the collection. Any kids were welcome, preferably with flashlight. We would look at the motley crew in our midst and either bang out some teams or decide that its each man to himself.
Leslie’s house was the meeting place because she was situated between our neighborhood and the park where other kids lived. She also had patches of trees and other niches, perfect for little bodies. In the daytime we jumped on her trampoline with no shoes, sometimes with the sprinkler running.
Leslie looks at me and I know its time. I turn to a rough looking older boy. He is about 12, maybe 13 and his hair is matted around his forehead from playing baseball at the park. His name is Gregory and I think he’s the bees knees. “You’re it,” I say with an air of self-endowed authority. “Now turn around and count to 10.”
He closes his dirty hands around his eyes and begins to count. “1…2…3…”
I grab Leslie’s clean 10 year old hand and we run to our favorite hiding place, the tool shed. I crouch behind the lawnmower and Leslie attempts to squeeze in beside me.
“8… 9… 9 and a half…. 9 and three quarters…”
In a desperate act Leslie flees from my side, squeaking something about not being hidden enough. She halfway closes the door behind her as she escapes. I am now alone. Its very, very quiet. I become acutely aware of the loud sound of my breathing and wipe something off of my shoulder. Was it a spider? Probably just a mosquito. I scratch at the thought of it.
I hear a loud, high pitched scream outside the tool shed. The little kids always get caught first. They giggle when ‘it’ comes near them and give themselves away. I wonder if Leslie found her salvation.
I am leaning, sitting on my ankles, my knees against my face. A small glimmer of moonlight comes through the crack in the door. My eyes have adjusted to the darkness and I can now make out rakes, shovels, and old gardening gloves around me. All of a sudden the door opens and Gregory enters the shed. I automatically stop breathing. I stay as still as possible.
“I know you’re in here!” he proclaims loudly. I say nothing. I have fallen for that one before.
He is so close to me I could reach out and touch his leg right above his white athletic sock. As I contemplate this he moves over a step even closer. I can see his sweat. I swear he can hear my heartbeat.
I see him looking around, but seeing only darkness. He pokes at a shovel and jumps back when it tumbles over. I stir a little in my 1 square foot of hiding. Its quiet again. I wonder what it would be like to kiss him. Or kiss any boy. We are alone in the tool shed, only he doesn’t know it. My fingertips touch my lips in all their chipped nail polish glory, and then he leaves. He has no idea he has just inspired romance in my 4th grade mind.
More moments pass that seem like years until I hear Leslie belt out
“Come out come out wherever you are!!!”
I emerge from the tool shed to the same group of scraggly kids that I had run away from. “You won!” they shriek.
“You were in there?” asks Gregory. “That’s totally rad. I mean, I totally knew that.” I blush before I turn around and begin my countdown:
“1… 2…. 3…”