Twilight is ghost in the graveyard, red-light green-light, hide and seek mother may I; twilight is magic after dinner time, when the darkness is not yet fallen, and parents sometimes say yes, but “stay in the yard”.
Twilight is almost dark, twilight is when childhood fear and play walk together for a little while.
Laughter chases the scary away, hiding and jumping out, giggles give your hiding place away the always running, hot, fall onto the grass, drinking cool water from the hose, come in before full dark time.
Later in the dark, alone, scary returns and the cool sheet pulled over your head will sometimes keep it away.
Sunlight is alley archeology; the pieces of glass, crushed metal, empty paint cans, wooden planks and bottles our bounty, our work for the day, scouring the rocky roads between the houses, behind the gates, behind the backyards were treasures abound.
Everything can be found here, everything is thrown out in the alley.
The alley is an in-between place.
Our bounty is large and important finds, each has a place, a usefulness and our mission is to get each treasure home, over the fence, and into the yard before anyone sees. The mission is everything. We can not fail.
We have to check and see if she is watching.
She won’t let us bring our finds into the yard, she calls it junk and trash, and points, hands on hips, raises her brow, and orders our treasure left behind.
It can’t happen, if she sees all is lost.
The youngest with her brown curls is usually sent in. Small, adorable and quick she darts to the door and peers inside.
She turns, gives the signal. The coast is clear.
She waves us in, and stands watch.
Mom is no where in sight.
We race to the hedge of giant oleander, each slim branch is filled with poison flowers of pink and white, they are brushed aside, a dangerous petal curtain, hides what lays inside.
The oleander hedge towered at the back of the yard, the boughs reached high to the sky and then bend back, creating a crawl space deep inside, invisible to anyone, it is the perfect fort.
We run like scampering insects, back and forth dragging the big wooden plank, the empty cans two at a time, we drag our fort furniture and set it all inside. We set the plank atop the cans and create a bench, we place the other cans around for more seats, we sweep the dry hasn’t seen rain in nine months dirt, sweep it clear of leaves and roly poly bugs, earwigs and twigs.
I tag the others for another mission, supplies from the kitchen.
It will be dangerous. She is in there, almost dinner time, chances are she is watching now.
Bravely they leave the fort, I watch from the bench.
I didn’t see them enter my yard.
The two boys from school.
I stood up and parted the petals.
“What do you want?” I ask, a little voice tells me to be brave, and a strange different feeling not scary is growing.
“Hey what’s in there Gardner?”
The enter the fort, the once big space now shrinks, I lean against the branches, they sit.
I feel better somehow they sitting, they are smaller now.
The tall one speaks, “He lost a bet” He shrugs his head toward the other shorter one.
I look at one then the other, not understanding.
“He lost a bet, and he has to kiss you”.
The noise from my heart flooded my ears, as he stood and made his move.
I was looking at him, his face, first while he was sitting, then as he was above me.
The tips of his eye lashes were lighter brown than the rest, and curled so much that when he laughed his deep brown eyes disappeared into them.
His breath was warm and he smiled as his face grew closer and closer, I noticed he didn’t show his teeth when he smiled, it was more like a grin…
I stood up then, seemed like the thing to do, a girl should have her first kiss with both feet on the ground.
I looked up and then with his head slightly turned his lips met mine.
Soft and warm, and salty. I opened my eyes and his were closed.
Whoops! Oh! I guess you close your eyes. I closed mine again.
Soft warm salty- then minty warm softness, and the rushing of my heart gave way to a feeling much more, more inside, way way deep inside.
Then just as thought I liked this, it was over.
He backed away, smiled, and they backed out of the fort, hopped over the fence and were gone.
The two youngest called from their now abandoned mission to the kitchen,”Mom says come in for supper!”
I leave the fort, fingers on my lips, wondering if yoanyone could see it, if the warmth was showing, wondering if it will stay forever.
Later at the dinner table I look around, my mother busy with serving the chicken, only she knows who gets what part of the chicken.
I watch as my father reads the paper, and wonder if they see my lips and face red and warm, will they notice anything different?
I sit at the table, fingers still feeling the warmth on my lips, milk is spilled, dinner is served eaten and dishes cleared.
No one sees, no one but me.
Its full on twilight outside, street lights starting to shine, ghost in the grave yard time,
“Mom can we go outside?”
“stay in the yard please”
I place the kiss and the curl of his lashes inside where now I knew my parents didn’t see; an inside, in-between place, and I locked it away for a while and ran out to play.
I knew I can get it out again later. I knew it will be there forever.
I knew there is time enough for kisses after the twilight fades.