When he reaches the swings, he merely stands, remembering a girl. She had flaxen hair then, an old word, but accurate. It was midnight when he met her. He was eleven, brave with scraped knees and beginning to believe he was tall. His family had just moved from another city, halfway across the world to this strange neighborhood with foreign flowers lining the walks. His father had built the set from a box brought home from Canadian Tire, the place where they were to get him a bicycle, dad said. It was a hot day, with lemonade and the famous toolkit creating the swing-set like magic from scattered bolts and bars. He had gone to bed sweaty and happy in new Star Wars pyjamas, imagining the kids he would meet.
A sound woke him, it was dark, a blue dark, heavy lit by the moon though the unfamiliar window. The sound came again, blurring oddly from his dreams of being an astronaut into reality. He sat up, kicking his covers off to crouch on his bed under the window. He put his fingers on the sill and peered out between his dirty hands to the yard below. She was there, riding the wind like the purest form of american ghost. A ribbon in her golden hair, amphetamine white kneesocks under a chequered dress, she flew, legs swinging bent then straight to the stars. It was long minutes before he could move again, before he could breath.
He’s out front that house right now, if he looked up he would see the window he watched her from. He hurts inside, thinking how he watched her until she saw him, how she climbed the trestle under his window to whisper to him, “Never tell”, before running away into the perfumed night. His mother is upstairs now, dying. Her skin has grown thin and sickness eats at her from inside. He didn’t have the heart to tell her it was christmas.