Red Lights!

When I was about nine, one of my friends visited our house with her mother and little sister. She and I used to play a lot when we both lived in the community of tiny half-dilapidated apartments, but now that we lived far away from each other, it was such a special occasion to be able to spend a day together.

While the mothers chatted in the living room, my friend, her little sister and I went upstairs and pitched a “tent” in my parents’ bedroom using the extra blankets that were lying around in the room. Inside the tent, we set up a cassette recorder and started creating our own radio program. The radio program was a call-in show, and we used the house phone to receive calls from our imaginary listeners. Once in a while, we made an internal call to the house phone downstairs to see if our mothers had anything to say on our program.

“No thank you,” said my mother when she picked up the phone.

“We don’t know about your radio program,” said my friend’s mother when she picked up the phone. “So what on earth can we say?”

Both of them told us not to call downstairs anymore because it was disturbing their conversation. We burst into laughter inside our tent.

“Our program is so special that adults cannot understand its value!”

Soon it was dinner time and we were called downstairs. We talked and laughed as we ate the delicious meal, and once we were done eating, we quietly ran upstairs to continue our play. We sensed that our time together was approaching to an end, and we wanted to make the best out of it.

As always, the time to say goodbye came too soon. Since my friend’s mother did not drive, my mother offered to drive them back home. Of course, I was coming with them. Thus it turned out that we children could spend a little more time together in the car.

“I want this time to last as long as possible!” I exclaimed.

“Me too!” My friend chimed in.

“Let’s hope that all the traffic lights are red on the way!”

“Yes! All the lights have to be red so that our drive can last forever!”

As soon as the car started, the three of us started chanting together in the backseat.

“Red lights! Red lights!”

But to our disappointment, the drive went smoothly. There was very little traffic on the road, and almost all the traffic lights were green.

Whenever we came close to a green light, we would shout,

“Turn RED!!”

But alas, it was no use. The drive soon came to an end, and I waved my friend and her sister a goodbye.

“It didn’t work!” I said to them. “But next time, it will! We have to meet again soon!”

There was no “next time” until years later, and by that time, we had all forgotten about our red light chanting practice.