I remember once, when I was nine or thirteen, my best friend Joanna and I lay softly on the golden green grass of the Big Hill that rose up behind our houses, grated cheese sandwiches clutched in our small hands as loose pieces of salad tomatoes slipped out the bottom, between the slices. We didn’t wear cotton summer dresses, with bows on the back and lace around the trim. Instead we favoured denim dungarees, and velcro fastened skateboard trainers, our t shirts and socks emblazoned with transfers of our favourite sci fi characters that were hidden under our additional layers, but were none the less important because we knew they were there.
The night grew around us, the black sky swirling up the hill and hugging us in darkness and the mysterious spirit of adventure. Our parents would worry about us, out there so late. Well, my mum would anyway; Joanna’s parents always seemed so cool, so blasé. I wished they were mine, instead.
Pondering the shapes and patterns formed by the stars, we made out cars and buildings and built a city right there, on the charcoal canvas, painting with the chalk of our young minds like we did on the lazy days when our flagstone driveways were bright with zoos of animals and half finished hopscotch games.
Suddenly, the brightest stars seemed to move, and I realised that I might actually be quite tired. But Joanna said she saw them too, and she told me it was magic, and I don’t know if it was the way she held my hand or if it was the way her eyes shone with such violent wonder through her curled fringe, but I believed her. The stars were alive, just as we were, dancing around one another in loops and performing their great display; and I didn’t want to go home.
Sometimes, I miss that time I’ve almost forgotten when it was so easy to believe that magic was real. And sometimes, I don’t miss it at all.