[response to “I am wired in…”]

I pressed my face between the bars in order to be closer to the darkness. The benches and the wire netting around the garbage can looked like they’d been dipped in melted plastic and left to dry, which reminded me of elementary school. I remember sitting at the blue version of the same benches, eating the baloney sandwich my parents thought passed for nutritious and watching my own sneakers swing back and forth through the wires.

The benches all faced a brick wall, and as my eyes adjusted to the special dark of the wooded theater I could make out the white paint drippings of a fake waterfall. A pair of thin trees grew on either side, as if we had stepped out of Philadelphia into a forest.

“What do they hold here?” I asked, gripping the bars.

“Nothing,” he said. “I think it’s been closed for years.”

“Really?” And I looked again and saw the leaves around the benches, a thick carpet of them that hadn’t been swept.

“Yeah. I asked a guy who’d been living here for years. He said he’s never seen it in use.”

I yanked at the gates, and realized that not only were they locked but a bike lock had been looped around the top for good measure. I stuck my arm through the narrow bars, as if maybe I could push through. “I want in,” I said.

“We could do some cool stuff in there,” he added.

I leaned my face back between the metal, more wistful now that I knew I would never see inside. “There’s a bridge,” I said, and there was, a three-D bridge next to the waterfall, as if stretching over its eventual stream. “I feel like a little kid,” I said.

“How so?”

“You know when you’re a little kid running around all these backyards, and you have adventures and make all these discoveries, and everything’s a revelation? I feel like that.”

“Wow,” he said. “You really haven’t been living, have you?”


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