I remember the day I stopped being a kid. It is as clear in my mind as a crystal ball.
It was the beginning of August, and I was ten years old. Mom’s newest “Redbook” magazine had arrived and I was reading a short story. It was hot, the kind of heat that sapped whatever energy one has left in a hot afternoon. I was sitting in my grandfather’s old rocker, a big burgundy leather rocker that wraps around the sitter and makes it hard to summon the will to stand up. The living room was darker, now that the sun had moved over to the west side of the house.
That was when my brother Robert came in the house to get a drink of water. He was dripping sweat. Our youngest brother Bill was on the porch and wanting us to come out to play ‘spies’. Robert wandered into the room and looked down at me.
I could feel him, smell him. I was furious at him for teasing me that morning when we were chasing each other. He had long fast legs, and I had short legs that ran like they were stuck in mud. I was furious because I always was the 'bad guy', the one who got shot & died, the one who got tagged. So, I ignored him, let him stand there glaring down at me.
“Whatcha doin’, Sis?”
“Reading, that is what I am doing.”
“Wanta come out and play ‘spies’ with me and Bill?”
That was the pivotal moment, that one right there.
I didn’t even look up at him. I sniffed, and turned a page in the magazine. “I’m too old to play ‘spies’ anymore. I am too old to play at all.”
Robert waited and waited, expecting me to jump any moment, and take off running. Then, he turned and left the room. I heard the screen door slam, and heard him tell Bill that I wasn’t going to play anymore.
A few days later, I got up in the morning and found the signs of my first menstruation. I ran downstairs and told Mom, who showed me what to do. ‘I guess I really am grown-up’ I mused.
But, at this time period of my life, I want to go back to that pivotal moment and change it. I want to say, “Sure! Let’s play ‘spies’ and I get to be Natasha!” I want to tell Robert, “I’m sorry—I stopped the game too early! I want to keep playing! I was wrong!”
If only I had looked into that crystal ball and seen ahead. If only the game never ended. If only we had run and chased long into the night. If only....