“Lau-RA Laaaaaaaa-raaaaaaaaa LAURA! LAURA!!!!”
How I hated that call. Remember what it was like when you were eight and it was late summer but school had already started so you had maybe two hours to play after dinner and before bath? So you rushed home pretended to do ALL the long division problems so you could go outside and play with your friends? Squeezing time in the thicket just outside our backyard was a priority and I knew exactly how far “earshot” shot was even though I would often wander farther, just minding the light. But always always always without fail, that call would come just as the battle for the big tree was heating up or the causalities were coming in as we played war or built forts against the “japs”. War meant WWII, our father’s didn’t talk about Korea—their war—Vietnam was too real and all of us knew someone who was for real playing war. Besides we played war whenever we sat down and watched the evening news just after dinner. Tom Brokaw told us about it. We certainly couldn’t pretend to be vanquishing Germans. One of the kids playing with us had a German mom and there were whispers his Grandfather was a real live Nazi. How thoughtless that would have made our war if he had to fight against his own people.
But the war was always over when I heard Mother calling me. We had to call a truce until the next time. The Japanese and American troops were suddenly of one accord as they chased the “nurses to the road where our bikes waited. We raced all the way home along the streets where the pine trees cast deep and uneasy shadows; snakes beginning to wake up in the shallow ditches muddied by traces of murky water. Was that a mockingbird I would hear or my mother’s growing impatient call for dinner?
That’s how I feel in the evenings as the day heads towards sundown. I want to take one more walk to the lake; or just sit on the glider a few minutes longer. But I must pull myself away from this outside world. So many decades later, I feel the ache of disappointment that it is time to head for home. Playtime is over.