6. The Summer of My Youth

I would carry that summer with me for all my life. For it was the summer of my youth, the precious memory we tuck away in our soul, and savor from time to time in Twilight's whispers.

Max lives a life so simple, it's perfect. High up in the mountains, away from the bustling world, there is a family that lives each day to the fullest. Mother and Father, Sister and Max. And me, that glorious summer.

I worked in the fields, side by side with Max's family. We laughed together over the meals of our harvest. We marveled together at the mysteries of the stars that stretched forever in a blanket of light in a wondrous summer night, alive with a hushing symphony of living sound.

Max showed me the sky and the hills and the trees. The streams and the birds, and the flowers, and the earth which bears us all and nourishes our strength. Max was the absolute best friend that every ten year old longs for. The one who shares your every hope and fear, your joys and wonderment, your dreams and expectations.

Every day was an adventure we couldn't wait to share together. We explored the hills and the valleys, armed with sandwiches in a knapsack and hearts full of excited wonder. We whispered secrets to each other in our secret cave that we discovered by the side of a stream, deep in the woods. The place where we found the words written by two boyhood friends hundreds of years before: "FRIENDS FOREVER, Max and Ward," and we knew the Fates would never separate us, ever.

But of course, that summer passed so quickly, and the time had come to leave. We had promised each other we would not cry when the summer came to an end. I hugged them each so closely, and I tried with all my might to hold back the tears as I'd promised. I held my breath, hoping to make the time stand still so that the summer would last forever. But then I was waving goodbye to them, and I watched a tear roll down Max's cheek as time pulled us each our own ways and he disappeared into the mist of memories.


The mist rolled away, and time had painted years on my brow, making that summer of my youth just a distant memory. Life had moved on as it always does, and the past had to be left behind. It hurt so much at first. I tried to keep in touch, but as our lives went off in different paths, we grew further and further apart.

There were so many times I longed to return to that wonderful place, but time passed so quickly and there was so much to be done. And before I knew it, the mirror showed me I was an old, old man, with nothing left to look forward to but my past. So here I was, strolling through the fog.

On Tuesday, the path through the woods began to look familiar, and my heart quickened, for I knew, at long last, that I was coming home. The sunlight trickled down in warm honey rays as I dropped my cane and raced beneath the canopy of leaves, young eternally once again.

The summer freshness was fondly tickling my memories as I came to the stream. I paused on the bank where my childhood friend and I had spent so many hours thinking, dreaming, listening to the sounds of life all around us. But where was that cave we had found?

Feverishly, I searched the banks until I found the stone that hid our secret place. Casting it aside with a strength that only youth possesses, I crawled inside, shining my flashlight, searching for the words that were so important to find.

And then I saw them, "Friends Forever, Max and Ward." I smiled and turned around and there was Max, laughing with joy. He handed me a sandwich as I stared in amused perplexion. But as I held out my youthful hand, I didn't wonder why I was no longer old, for I had returned to the summer of my youth as I always knew I would.

"Well," Max sighed as he'd finished his sandwich. "I told Maya I'd have you back in time for dinner. We'd better be going, pal."

I blinked in confusion, but Max's boyish smile made it alright somehow. We walked along the path until we came to the tiny hut with the smoke-puffing chimney that promised a warm fire and a hot meal within.

Max hugged me, and I tried not to cry as he pulled away and began to walk into the mist. "FRIENDS FOREVER..." he whispered, and he was gone as if he never was. But of course, he is always with me. My best friend Max.  From the summer of my youth.


©: 1992-2015 Robert Alan Silverstein

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