I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately, so here is a fictional story about me traveling back seven years to when I was sixteen-year-old.

* * *

I come striding into the park that nuzzles my neighborhood, the one where I used to walk my dog most days—the only way I could get away from home for a while.

I take a seat on the most out-of-the-way bench and I wait. And then I see myself walking the dog. It’s late January, which doesn’t mean much in Houston—but I am wearing that letter jacket.

I see my sixteen-year-old self make his way closer. I start to remember. He has just started wearing shorts again. It’s been four years since he was made fun of for having girl legs, and only now does he feel comfortable exposing them.

He glances at me and then takes a seat on the opposite end of the bench. He gives the dog a drink and pauses for his feet to rest. He doesn’t want to go back home yet, but he’s got to finish that chapter on the Civil War.

He glances at me again and then looks away. He knows who I am.

Why are you here?
To give you hope.
I getting on well enough, you know.
If you insist.

I sigh. In two weeks, I’m getting married.
Do I know her?
Not yet.
When do I meet her?
Five years.

He sighs. I’ve been thinking about God.
I know.
What if it’s true?
Then you will change.
But I don’t know how.
He will show you the way.

He grunts. Right.
I grin. Do you think you’re worth it?
The change?
Maybe. If I ever decide that people matter.
You will.

We pause for a while. Just sitting there. Waiting.

I turn my head. Yes?
Do I get what I want?
You will dance without shame.
Yes. And . . .
That’s not possible.
. . . and you will find the Music.
The secret fire?
Yes. The darkness will shatter.

I fade and he walks home. And we pondered these things in our heart.