By Bobbie Glasheen

From our back porch I shout into the pines and the bare, black branches of the oaks. “Give that back, doggone! That belongs to me and I want it back NOW. What else have you taken, besides my good looks and strong arches?”

Time has taken a lot but not the strength of my “yelling in the woods” voice. So, what is all the fuss about?

I have been robbed of my childhood. Time, who lives in the trees, has taken it. Along with my slinky, my sheriff’s badge, my 18-hand palomino named Babe, my Radio Flyer red wagon and my vast collection of trading cards. And my mother and father. I loved my parents. And then for a time I judged them. Then I forgave them. Friends now, they hang around my neck like a rainbow. And so, I s’pose they are not on the missing list. Right here with me all the time.

Shall I call the sheriff and report this? Or the lock-up unit, pleading that I just need a short rest from all this growing up? Before I do that, I really ought to look again. No sense embarrassing myself with the authorities.

Where to look? Where does Time hang out? Just as I usually do, I return to the trees. “You’re up there somewhere, you wily devil.” Silence. At last, a lonely leaf drifts down and I catch it in my palm. I cannot help but examine it. The veins. Crisp gold edges. A wiry stem. Whose child was it? What an odd shape!

Minutes pass and I remain enthralled. Then my attention turns to the birdbath where fat chickadees have gathered. I think they might be playing mahjong, they have that look of concentration and enjoyment. Shall I offer them a cuppa? Best not. Word would get out and every bird on Cedar Street would be hanging out here. Birdsylvania.

It is difficult, but I drop to my knees. Then to lie on my stomach in the detritus. I think my childhood was right here all the time. No need to get so excited when no one, but no one, can steal my childhood. I knew that all along.