We transported to a quiet, scenic overlook perched atop a sparsely forested hill. On a bench sat a boy who looked to be about 11 or 12 years old. It took me a while to remember the scene.
I think it was during spring break of my 6th grade year. We had taken vacation in the Ozarks, of all places. All my friends were going off to exotic locales like Cancun, Key West, Disneyworld, or South Padre Island. Meanwhile, my family got in the car and headed for Missouri. It was only a day’s drive away; it was cheap; and as my pre-pubescent self was discovering whilst sitting on a bench taking in the hilly countryside, it was actually quite pleasant.
The fairy buzzed over to the boy and sat on the bench beside him. He waved me over.
When I joined them, it was like I was back in my 6th grade head. The sun, long absent in the months leading up to spring break, warmed my face, and a slight breeze tousled my hair. I remember it was actually warmer in Missouri that year than it was in Florida or California. And as I sat alone on that bench, looking out over the rolling hills, I imagined I was no longer an anonymous boy from a nameless suburb in Wisconsin who never got noticed in class and who was facing several years’ worth of unrequited crushes. Instead, I imagined that the hills before me were those of medieval England and that I had discovered, in the middle of America, a portal to a fantasy land. It was a silly invention, and I didn’t take it that seriously. But I remember taking my shoes off, just as the boy was doing now, and digging my bare feet into the moist ground and smelling the scent of mud and new grass and feeling like I could change, like I could re-invent myself.
“I’ve forgotten all about this,” I told the fairy.
“I know,” he said. “This happens all the time. You people have no concept of the defining moments in your life. And your memory sucks.”
“So this is it, huh?” I closed my eyes and filled my lungs with the fresh air. “This is the best moment of my life.”
“Oh, Goodnes, no!” the fairy said. “This is number eight.”
I opened my eyes. “What do you mean number eight?”
“I know your top ten. This is number eight.”
“You know my top ten and you took me to number eight?” I said. “That’s random.”
“Yes it is!” He smiled.
“I suppose all of our best moments are somewhat random,” I added.
“Who’s the smart-ass now?”
I shot him the most skeptical glance I knew how to give. “I don’t think you know what that word means.”