some short fiction i wrote -
the red bucket is still out there. out in the yard, just behind the trees, where i hid it so many years ago. it’s still there; collecting so many layers of grime you could hardly recognize its original color. but i could. i would know my bucket in an instant. i would know its distinct color – red like an apple just before it’s ripe. i would remember how we used to make the grandest castles and most decadent cakes and anything our minds could imagine. we’d climb the peeling white fence between our houses so many times it was as if it wasn’t even there. that bucket was endless adventures, secret missions, mysteries to be solved. i would remember how you used to put it on your head and declare yourself king, smiling from ear to ear with your head tilted to one side. i would think about the time we filled it with the chocolate chip cookies your mother made, still too hot to eat, and run out into the field behind your house until we couldn’t run anymore. and the time we took turns standing on it outside my sister’s window, spying on her and her friends. that bucket was lazy summer days when we’d fill it with books and lay out in the grass, reading away the hours. it would remind me of the time my family drove us to North Carolina and we filled it to the brim with the ripest blackberries, and how our fingers were stained blue-purple for days because we’d eaten so many. i’d shake my head, thinking back to the time when you set that bucket out on my sidewalk and tried to jump over it with your skateboard, breaking its handle and your ankle. but most of all, if i ever saw that bucket again, i would think about the time when we sneaked out past midnight, for no reason other than for wanting to see each other, and you picked me up and stood me on top of that poor, weathered bucket and kissed me. i remember it as if it were yesterday. i remember how you smelled of your shampoo and lilac laundry detergent and ever-so-slightly of burning leaves. it was freezing that night and my toes and fingers were numb from the cold, but i didn’t care. but the thing i remember most was how unbelievably happy i was in that one moment, how i found myself wishing i could somehow stop time and live forever in the space between those two seconds. the red bucket is still out there. out in the yard, just behind the trees, where i hid it so many years ago. i could go find it, if i wanted. but i know i won’t. i’ll never go looking for it. i don’t want be reminded of the cracks and chips and spots where it’s faded pink from the sun. i don’t want to be reminded of how we drifted apart and how you fell in and out of love, moving on and leaving me behind. i don’t want to remember because my memories are better than reality.
"nostalgia is inevitably a yearning for a past that never existed."
- john green