The walk to work was wet and slow. Drops of rain made their way down the collar of my jacket, just reaching the edge of my shirt. While listening to the crunch and grind of soaked sidewalk under my feet, I thought I heard my name. I turned around expecting to see someone. There was nobody there. The odd thing was I recognized the voice. It sounded like Stephanie, a girl I was friends with when I was a child. Not a ghost, mind you; I heard a while back that she had gotten married, but it was really weird just the same.
Stephanie's parents were close with mine growing up and on special occasions we would be stuck with our older brothers while they went out and partied. I remember one particular Halloween when we were at her house in the middle of nowhere Indiana. We were in the living room watching Children of The Corn on this new channel HBO, trading our goods and basking in our job well done. In our small town, trick or treating took at least five hours, no one worried, and the job wasn't complete until every house had been hit. Our goods included popcorn balls, cookies, and cupcakes made by the older ladies. That was the first year we were allowed to go by ourselves, since we were in the fourth grade and our brothers were now too cool for costumes and going door to door. We were independent and satisfied.
Our brothers had been eyeing our stash all night. They thought they would make us a bet in order to score some chocolate, since the only things we would share were those weird, black and orange peanut butter chewy things. Since her family lived next to a corn field that was farmed by their neighbors, and we were watching that particular film, it seemed the site of the obvious dare. Armed only with a flashlight, we had to go out in the field, all the way to the scarecrow, and stay for a half an hour. If we did, we could stay up as late as we wanted and we could have control of the TV. Since Grease II was coming on soon, it was a deal.
Still dressed as the Ice Queen and Mr. Tumnus from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, we ventured through the backyard and over the chain link fence that separated what we knew from what was out there. Our brothers were laughing and watching us from the kitchen window. We were together and we were afraid of nothing. We knew we were the only children in that corn. We slid through the rows of stalks, tassels waving high above our heads. We walked slowly, flashlight first, careful not to paper-cut ourselves on the blade-like leaves. We got to the scarecrow and shined the light on his face to show the brothers we made it. We agreed that it was pretty scary since he was missing an eye and both of his arms were reaching up as if to ask God, "Why?" We decided to walk a bit further out and to the side so our brothers couldn't find us when they decided to try and scare us. We knew the game. They would make noises, freak us out, we'd run inside and lose by default. But not if they couldn't find us. We must have walked at least two-hundred yards into the pitch black field of Narnia before we found a perfect clearing. We laid out her cape like a blanket, turned the light off, and looked up at the stars. We carved ourselves out of clouds and sky and gave ourselves our own constellations. Sometimes now I still silently follow Orion's belt to find me looking down at myself. We decided that night that Peter Pan was a vampire. He could fly, he never grew old, and his shadow was alive. It made total sense. This occurred to me when The Lost Boys movie came out; we were totally right at 9 years old.
We sat silently when we finally heard our brothers coming to find us. Their clumsy, seventh grade feet gave them away with every step and they giggled like children. With no success and no flashlight, they went back, thinking we were hiding in the backyard. We heard them let out a roar as they tried to scare the empty tree house. Losers. Now safe, we unwrapped the candy we'd brought along, amazed at how well we could now see in the dark that had blinded us before. We could live in the dark now. We could be the things that people were scared of. We agreed that we would make great monsters. We couldn't decide on which kind we would be, but concurred that we would have to be able to fly.
Slowly it began to rain. The trickling autumn kind that smells like leaves and dirt. Lying on our backs we let it hit our faces for a while. Mouths open, we let it hit our tongues and we drank in the little bits of sky. After getting damp enough for our acetate costumes to stick to our skin, we made our way back to the house victorious. We had been gone for almost two hours and our brothers were terrified that something had happened. A double victory. We gave them chocolate anyway and proceeded to watch the original Grease on Laserdisc until we fell asleep.
I'm not sure why I thought I heard her say my name on my walk to work, but it flooded my head with all of this childhood. I must've looked pretty odd walking down the street with my tongue hanging out of my mouth trying to catch the rain. It tasted like sky.