“Hello, old friend.”

I sat heavily on the park bench. It was mossier than the last time I’d seen it, with more scars and more initials carved into the back.

“It’s good to see you again…good to be with you again.”

The trees rustled softly in the light summer wind. Many of those same trees had been there thirty years ago, when as a child I’d spent many a long summer afternoon there. A few had fallen or been chopped down, but the rest…they were just as they had been at the very beginning, in my earliest memories.

“Almost like time has stood still,” I sighed. If I lost myself in the sights, I could almost pretend that I was a 5-year-old again, forever young, unwearied by the passage of time. I could almost look forward on a life yet to be lived rather than look back on one that had already mostly unwound.

A silly sort of thing, I know. But even as the years pass more quickly, their absence is felt that much more keenly. Is it the act of a foolish old man, I wondered, to sit and quietly weep on a park bench at the memories of those days that seemed to last forever?

Whether it was or not, I was glad that the park was empty. I sat there, tears streaming down my cheeks, as I watched myself run off, hand in hand with friends, into the park that had been, that was, and always would be.

If only in memory.

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Mikey had long been accustomed to the old wagon–falling asleep to the gentle humming of its tires as heard from the cabin at speed, listening to the faint pitch changes as the automatic transmission shifted as it carried Mom away to work, the little pieces of meals and toys long past that would sometimes resurface on or under the seats.

But the new car was alien.

It was far too quiet, meaning Mikey was distracted by the beating of his own heart when he tried to nap. It glided unnaturally up and down the driveway without any of the comforting sonic cues that spelled out M-O-M. Its interior was cold, sterile, with a clinical smell and none of the stains with stories attached. Worse, Mom wouldn’t allow any eating or drinking anything but water.

It wasn’t long before Mikey was throwing tantrums and demanding the old wagon back. He fancied he saw it downtown sometimes, moldering in a used car lot or bearing a new family of usurpers.