Childhood dreams is a prompt from Studio 30 plus.
Because the 3WW prompt went I added it!
I stop talking and concentrate on putting fireflies into a bottle. It’s going to be dark soon and the trapped fireflies will light up the skies. We’re between ten and six years old and none of us have to be in until the adults unplug the TV’s from the extension cords hanging from the garden apartments in the courts to TV tables. Some of the men smoke cigars. They drink Coke and lemon soda, spilling the soda so that bees and flys flock around the tables and TV’s. I stay far away from the TV tables. There’s nothing dainty about them. Plus I’m scared soda will spill into the extension cords and there will be a huge explosion.
It’s summer before my little sister and I go to camp for six weeks soon after my birthday. Our parents encourage us to stay out late and play so we’ll be tired and sleep a bit later in the morning. Though I try to get up at six every morning of the year to read the encyclopedia. I’m a word nerd that the other kids like because they can’t remember not knowing me. My best friend, Ava Altman, is at a hotel for the summer. My family goes to hotels but most of the families spend two to four weeks in bungalow colonies.
I don’t tell the kids that my family spent summers in bungalow colonies when we lived in Sunnyside. Maybe my parents laugh at memories of the bungalow colonies when we stay at hotels near Monticello to visit parts of my father’s family. His sister and her family live in Miami. Poor me. Doomed to vacations in the Catskills, Miami Beach, and “educational places” such as The Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
We study the region for months before we go. I can’t wait for our first vacation to DC where we’ll see the FBI building which is about the most exciting building in the world to me. The day we’re going to go we stop at my father’s client’s supermarket first and I throw up all over the entrance way to the store. We go back to the court instead where I get over the measles in two days.
I like going on vacation. I especially like Florida because I get to spend the morning in the pool and the afternoon in the ocean. My parents get two rooms and our cousins come and stay with us. We all get along. My sister and I can still recite our father’s refrain: “relax, we’re going to be here for two weeks. You don’t need to do everything today.” Yes. We. Do. We run through the hotel lobbies and downstairs store arcade. If we’re in the 40’s at Collins Avenue we run to some houseboats that are on TV. We’re going to meet some TV stars. My sister who is two years younger doesn’t really care but she knows I only like the coolest of things. That we never meet a TV star doesn’t phase me. There’s always tomorrow. Or next year.
I like being in the court. I like camp. I’m an indiscriminate life liker. I can’t wait to be a teenager and have a real boyfriend but I spend much time dreaming. Ava and I have our whole lives plotted out. Ava looks like a child movie star. She has long dark wavy perfect hair, and is the prettiest girl I know.
Ava thinks I’m so lucky to be my mother’s daughter. Unlike Ava’s mother who I secretly think is a witch who will get her coven together for a court haunting, my mother’s friendly and fun.
My mother has dark hair, large eyes, a huge smile, and is I know prettier than most of the other mothers. Before I was adopted my mother owned a fancy dress store in Forest Hills. Her mother makes our good clothes. Ava, my sister and I are the best dressed girls in the court. Ava’s family has a housekeeper. I take that for granted until I’m older and realize how tiny the garden apartments, built for returning vets are. Everybody lives in Beech Hills because it’s on top of the largest hill in Queens, cut off from the rest of the borough, and has a lot of outdoor space for kids to play in.
There are 40 mothers in the court alone. I’m vaguely aware that my mother’s older because I was adopted but I know this is something that can never ever be discussed. Most parents and kids think she’s younger. Everybody looks up to my parents. My father’s a professional who always has time to talk to the other parents and answer any questions. He began the first credit union for coop apartments. I know that’s a big deal only because parents stop me and tell me how great my father is.
I don’t try to memorize summers in the court. The TV’s, the rock & roll I love that the older kids play; the games we kids play. It’s boys against girls, run to the trees. One two three ring a leveo. I’m not very good at the games but it doesn’t matter and I laugh so hard when I get to the trees. I’m tantalized by the garden apartments. The court is a perfect place to live.
Years later Ava and I will find our memories haunting. No childhood could possibly live up to it. We tantalize kids with our stories.
Then I never stop to think how good life is. Why should I? It’s all I know. But I will always remember how beautiful the fireflies were when they lit up the sky like fireworks. Then I opened the bottle and let them fly away into the night. The other kids didn’t like that. They liked the fireflies living for a few days in the glass jars with air holes on the jar cap. But I liked to think of them flying to their true love.