We were sitting underneath the old oak by your house, gazing up at the periwinkle blue sky through it’s green leaves, casting a dappled, honeyed sunlight across our faces. “Come on!” you giggled with glee as a determined V of geese fly above our heads. “Let’s fly with the geese!” so we did, growing feathers of our own, launching ourselves away from the binding forces of gravity and the fields of green and soaring through the crisp, blue air.
Then we were splashing in the lake, watching its green waters ripple like emerald satin, the sun glimmering on it’s glassy surface. “Come on!” you urged me, your wet red hair braided and shining in the late afternoon light. “Let’s become mermaids and swim with the fish!” so we did, our legs melting together, pearly scales erupting along our new-found fins, leaping like dolphins, bursting forth from the lake’s surface and twirling in the light of the setting sun.
We were playing by the rose of Sharon bush, it’s velvety petals unfolding, it’s blooms bursting with vibrant colors. Bees buzzed in a busy manner about it’s leaves, and humming birds sparkled like a shimmering rainbow, their tiny, delicate wings zipping back and forth. “Come on!” you cried again, that familiar look in your eye. “Let’s grow wings and fly with the humming birds! Let’s be fairies!” so we did, sprouting shimmering, luminescent wings from our shoulder blades, shrinking to the size of a bird, our clothing changing from our ordinary shorts and short sleeves to dresses made of rose petals, or a tunic made of oak leaves. We zipped away, fairy dust drifting from our wings and laying in glittering trails on our way to the woods.
It was the fourth of July, and we were sitting on my rock, just under the beech tree, it’s paper bark peeling and its pale green leaves shone through with the afternoon sun. “Come on!” you said again. “Let’s become servants to a hag, and we’ll serve her and then escape!” So we did, dressing in rags, our dirty hair tied back with a bandana. The hag was terrible, with snarled hair garnished with mice bones, her pointy nose adorned with pimples, her teeth rotting and waggling when she scolded us. But then we escaped, and became queens of our own separate lands, where we reigned with honor and justice.
It was a night as black as pitch, and we were playing outside with your siblings. You looked at the dark woods, and then up at the sky; the moon hung in the starry canvas like a huge, pale eye, gazing down at our antics like a fortune teller into her crystal ball. “Come on!” you cry, a grin stretching across your face. “There’s a full moon! Let’s run with the werewolves!” so we did, feeling the metamorphosis overtake us- our faces lengthening into a hairy snout, my green eyes brightening to a luminescent amber, and an echoing howl building in our throats. I let it loose, the sound reverberating in the night, a haunting sound. And we loped off into the forest, joining the pack, following the mournful wail of the wolves.
And, yet again, we were running through the forest, enjoying the scent of fall, anticipating the cold weather, when you told me, “Come on! Let’s go run with the nymphs and dryads, and we’ll help them change the seasons and get ready for autumn!” so we did, morphing into breezy spirits, running our finger tips along the bramble and bushes and watching the transformation take place- fiery golds and oranges creep in where we made contact. And then it was time for winter, and we helped the others change seasons too, spreading a coat of frost along the forest floor, changing the browning leaves to ice and the trees boughs to a bare, snow-covered landscape.
Next, we were dragons, deep in our dusky layer, curled and sprawled over our hordes of treasure. We roared a great and terrible roar and blew a river of fire at the opposing knight, swiping a scaly claw at his steel armor. Our game shape-shifted, morphing into every girls’ dream- we were princesses at a ball, draped in bolts of the finest silks and satins, a gift from our fairy god-mother, and ready to meet our princes for the dance. And then—two ninjas dressed in pitch black, sneaking through the shady forest in the dead of night. We attacked with a ferocity never seen before, kicking and punching with an elegant agility, defeating our enemies with a refined skill and grace.
For years we played together, each time imagining a new, adventure-filled game, racing through the yard in the summertime, not putting on a play, but just being, just being each other’s best friend.
But you lived far away, so far away; we didn’t see each other much, but when we did, it was like we didn’t spend a moment apart- we continued playing, growing together until it became incredibly hard to separate us. And even when we grew up, we still didn’t lose the imagination. We still continued with our games, as if playing wizards was a completely normal thing for twelve-year-olds to do. We did everything together, from watching the fireworks burst in all their splendor on the fourth of July, to having Thanksgiving meal together, just talking about school, about our teachers, about the books we had read recently. Though we progressed slowly through middle school, we didn’t really age- not really. In our hearts, we still remained the giddy little girls that were sitting under that oak tree on a spring afternoon. We were a bit like Peter Pan, our youth encased in amber, like a clock turned back.
I often go back to these memories, dreaming of the day we imagined flying away with the flock while pulling a stray couple of feathers from my hair, or the day we swam with the mermaids, absently shaking damp sand from my sheets. I grin as I recall the day we helped the nymphs change seasons, brushing a few stray snowflakes from my yarn sweater as I shouldered my backpack, getting ready for school. Reality reigned in my school like a tyrant on the throne, but I know better- there will always be my imagination, and, not only that, but I will always have a partner in crime. I will always have my best friend to share my adventures with.