Walking up the hill, the breeze light against my face and the sun warm, testing my memory of who lived in which house long ago when I played kickball in these streets.

In the small circle of girl friends, nothing is the same. The two houses facing each other where Catholic Italian brothers married identical twin sisters, producing a tumble of boys who let me play war and enter their tree house despite the "no girls allowed" sign, are now almost treeless and fenced unrecognizable.

Further up the hill, passing a dark green house that looks much as it did fifty years ago except lacking the stooped man who kept the yard raked and free of dandelions, his blind black Labrador following the sound of his master's rake. No signs of new owners or life, unless you count the ivy which has taken over one side of the house, continuing toward heaven, holding the brick chimney in vine arms embracing.

Another house, another memory. An old farmstead where my mother's most outlandish female friend lived. She was our Gloria Steinem but with eight children, widowed young, wild hair and wilder clothes. No bra, no make-up. In her backyard, after a long walk together while we children were all in school, she and my mother dug a hole underneath a peach tree.

My birthday dog, Lady, was buried there after a truck driver unexpectedly hit and killed my English Setter with the happiest tail, the most loyal of eyes, and the unfortunate enthusiasm for breaking free of her leash. My first experience of love and death, the last dog I ever gave my entire heart to break.

for Leading Lady of Mapleset, long may you run...

BrevityQuest12 (286 words)

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