A Time in Passing

Chapter 1

The New Kid on the Block

The soft sensation of morning's light began to creep through the oak and acorn with a distinct hymn that was both comforting and dependable for all those that lived on the tranquil Virginian coast. The smooth summer air wafted through the tree-lined suburban streets setting the black asphalt aglow with morning glint. The soft glow of the morning sun poked above the purple ocean horizon as Virginia Beach began to wake from its slumber. The independent Virginian city never slept but the way the sun rose above the grey and red brick buildings gave the large city a small town comforting feel even though it had a bustling population of nearly half a million people. Like most of cities it had a large expanse of suburban neighborhoods and communities surrounding it each with their unique residents and feel. As the sun rose above the ocean, life in the coastal suburbs slowly stirred awake. The summer song birds whistled and tweeted; the boisterous squirrels squeaked and played in the many towering oak and acorn trees that lined the quiet narrow avenues as the sun rose.

The streets were very quiet slowly coming back to life. One of these small streets, Rudee Avenue, was unusually quiet today. Rudee Avenue, named after Lake Rudee which it ran perpendicular against before the lake flowed into the ocean. The distant songs of the avian locals were quiet but perky as they sang the sonnets of southern morning bliss. The morning sun's amber light shined down into street below showering the lush lawns with golden pillars that made the street and the neighborhood glow with bliss and absolute purity. One of those pillars of light beamed down through the tree top down into a window on the second floor of an inconspicuous house on Rudee Avenue. The house's deep cerulean paint and white steps and roof shined in the light as it too slowly awoke from twilight's grip. The lawn was freshly cut and the house's sold sign still poked out from the ground when it should have been removed when the owners moved there last week. A silver Ford Explorer and a red Jeep Cherokee sat parked on the street indicating that its owner were the house's new residents. The home was your standard suburban house with a roomy interior: a triangular roof with four windows, two large bay windows on the first floor and two smaller cross framed windows that if looked closely enough resembled eyes, a red front door, and a two door garage to finish the picture.

The amber light of morning beamed down onto the house setting it aglow with life. On the second floor of the house in one small dark bedroom a small figure could be seen stirring about on the lone star themed bed. It was a slumbering boy, no older than five years of age. His raven hair and emerald eyes glimmered in the light as his plump cheeks grew with a tense frown. It was about eight in the morning and the boy was fast asleep. In his small hands a National Geographic Magazine was clenched tightly. His emerald eyes had once glowed with interest and curiously as he stared at the many pictures of stars and constellations before falling asleep in exhaustion. He would spend many nights reading until he passed out. He was very engrossed in the many types of stars being explained in the astronomy article. His whole room seemed to resemble the constellations, the many posters of stars and astronomy related subjects dotted the walls and the star blanket that he rested upon. He was clad in his blue pajamas and soft fuzzy slippers. As he turned on his bed he heard a knock on his door and a female voice call out to him awakening him from his slumber.

"Nathaniel, are you up?" The voice asked as she opened the door revealing herself as a young raven haired woman with similar green eyes. She was his mother and by the looks of it she had just gotten out of bed herself.

"Uh huh." The little boy begrudgingly affirmed as he sat up.

"Alright then, Nate, go brush your teeth then come downstairs for breakfast." She said before turning back into the gloom of the carpeted hallway.

Leaping off the starry bed the boy quietly scuttled towards the end of the hallway opposite of the stairs leading to the living room. Inside the bathroom Nate quickly brushed his teeth and washed his face before quietly walked downstairs into the gloom of the living room. The curtains were drawn and what little light did come through was absorbed and distributed as nothing but faint glint on the walls. Walking through the empty living room towards the kitchen in the back of the house Nate could hear his mother hard at work making breakfast. The sizzling of bacon and eggs gave the home an aura of tranquility. Entering the kitchen the young child quietly sat at the table looking over towards the stove as his mother turned around with a smile.

"Here sweetie, eat up its good." Nate's mom said munching down on a strip of bacon before walking back to the stove.

"Okay mommy." He uttered before digging into the hearty meal.

After finishing breakfast and handing his mother his emptied dirty dish Nate walked back into the living room to see his dad sleepily wander downstairs.

"Morning son, where's your mother?" His dad sleepily asked wiping his eyes.

"Hi daddy, mommy's making breakfast." Nate said with a shy smile.

"Awesome I'm so hungry right now." The young man said as his stomach rumbled with a low pitch.

"Daddy, when do you go back to work?" The wide eyed child asked with a curious gawk.

"Actually today son, now that the house's moving papers are finished I'll be going back to work today." He said.

Nate's father, Ryan worked at the local insurance office downtown. He had to take a vacation when he, his wife, Diana, and his sons Nate and Wally moved from the city into the suburbs of Virginia Beach. Mrs. Dawn worked as a nurse at the local hospital and would be off to work at six and wouldn't return until late at night. His father walked into the kitchen Nate leaped onto the couch tossing his arms in the air.

After a few minutes Nate's father came back out and turned from his son over towards the flat screen and the digital clock above.

8:45 AM

"Shoot! I'm going to be late!" The clean cut 28 year old man jumped before straightening his tie and grabbing his coat from the couch.

"Ryan, here I already packed your lunch for you." Nate's mom said tossing the man a brown paper sack.

"Thanks Hon, well I'm off then. I'll call when I get off work." Nate's dad said with a smile before heading to the front door.

"Alright honey, have a good day." Nate's mother said folding her arms leaning against the kitchen's wall frame.

"Bye dad." Nate quietly said before leaping onto the armchair beside the couch and coffee table.

"Bye son be good to your mother okay?" Nate's father ordered with a wide grin.

And with that he was gone with the summer wind whispering a faint song outside off to his car leaving his wife and son in the now sun lit house.

Now silence once again fell onto the house as Nate's mom returned to the task in the kitchen as Nate slumped into the leather armchair with the remote in hand. Nate's one year old brother, Wally, rested comfortably in his crib next to the couch squirming in his pajamas. His dark brown hair clung to his large round face as he waited for mommy.

Summer was near its end only a few weeks and Nate would start kindergarten. That reality was a deathly scary idea for Nate. Nate didn't have any friends to speak of outside his cousins and parents and the thought of having to interact with other kids—strangers, was a nightmare he thought he would not wake from.

"Nate?" His mother asked walking in from the kitchen. She had finished a few minutes ago and found her quiet son staring out into space. Normally that wouldn't be an issue except he was doing so even when his favorite show The Magic School Bus was on. That was a troubling sign for his mother to see and she knew exactly why he was acting this way.

Nate was always a thoughtful child, always thinking, always quietly lamenting on something whether it was the latest episode of Beakman's World or Bill Nye the Science Guy. He was definitely a step ahead of other kids in intelligence and maturity but it also alienated him and prevented him from socializing with other kids. She had to get him out of the house. He was five and should be playing with the other kids and get some friends if he had a chance to survive the upcoming school year.

Walking from her place by the kitchen she walked to her baby boy's crib lifting his squirming body up into her arms and bounced him up and down. She placed a formula bottle into his mouth for him to drink. She turned to her older son and frowned and thought. She knew exactly how to remedy this problem.

"Sweetie?" She called out gently with her baby boy in her arms.

"Um hmm." Nate slowly hummed as he blinked himself back to reality.

"I saw this nice little playground down the block when I went to work yesterday. All the kids go there, you should go play there today for bit." She cringed when she mentioned a lot of kids there knowing Nate wasn't the most sociable or outgoing child in the world.

"Hmm." Nate responded.

He honestly didn't know whether he should go or not. He was lamenting on the day he would have to go to school and meet dozens of other kids. Perhaps going on the swing set with a few kids and their parents watching from the benches wouldn't be so bad. It's not like he would be missing out on his show. It was already over by the time he shot back from his mind.

"Come on sweetie get dressed you're going out to play." She ordered grabbing her son lifting up from the armchair resting him on her chest and shoulder with his younger brother on the opposite arm.

"But mom I don't want to!" Nate cried out as he wilted at the thought of awkward conversations and his impossible shyness.

"No buts about it young man. You're going to play and have fun like a normal kid." Nate's mother said as she carried her frail son up the stairs to his room.

After a few minutes the two reemerged from upstairs. Nate's mother was clad in a pair of jeans and a white blouse while her son was dressed in loose sweats and his favorite shirt. It was a dark blue Tee with a large yellow star on the torso. Nate's younger brother, Wally, had a soft light blue infant bodysuit. Stopping at the front door Nate's mother turned towards digital clock on the TV.

9:31 AM

"You ready?" Nate's mother asked with her son's small hand within hers.

Nate simply shook his head and squeezed her hand.

Grabbing her purse and keys the three walked out of the house into the light of mid morning. The chirping of song birds and the chatter of observing squirrels alerted the two of the spender of morning. They both turned to the sound of their new neighbor mowing his lawn.

"Good morning Mrs. Dawn going for a walk I see." The older man shouted and waved over the roar of his lawn mower.

"Yes Mr. Green I thought Nate and Wally here could use some fresh air so we're going to the playground down the block for a bit." Mrs. Dawn said with a smile.

"Good! Nathaniel could use the experience and Wally could use the fresh clean air. Children need to play together more often than they do now with all the hustle and bustle children seem to play less and less." Mr. Green smiled as he circled back around for another sweep of his lawn.

"Goodbye Mr. Green, have a wonderful day." Mrs. Dawn hollered back.

"Same to you and tell Mr. Dawn I said hello." The middle aged man said as he rode away down his lawn.

"I will." She said before walking Nate down the small street toward the corner of Rudee and Greensboro Avenue.

The playground was just three blocks down towards the lake on Greensboro Avenue. Greensboro stretch parallel to the medium sized coastal lake and perpendicular to Rudee and was a mere block down the road. The small two-lane streets were only a car length wide giving a quaint small town feel to the area. Mrs. Dawn smiled as she saw a small squirrel swat at a small jaybird before leaping across the tree branches above the empty street towards the other trees.

The morning sun was now beaming radiant yellows and ambers down through the lush oak and spruce. The many thin and lengthy pillars of amber light appeared as silky golden webs that seemed to set the world around ablaze with life and bliss. That was a stark contrast to the nervous fright and angst going on within the small five year old child quietly walking down the small street.

Looking back down from her gaze upon the tree tops Mrs. Dawn looked back towards her beloved older son. She noticed Nate had a concerned stare that seemed to go on forever looking out into nothingness much different than the normalcy that most children his age felt. Even Wally could tell his brother was troubled even if he couldn't comprehend the cause or the consequences. Wally's scarcely covered brown haired head sparkled in the light as he looked in awe from his brother and stared up into the tree tops. She hadn't noticed it but he squeezed tightly on her hand in distress. Knowing her son that was his sign of sadness and distress and it meant something was troubling him but what? Why was he afraid she was there for him he couldn't be afraid of the surroundings they were quiet tranquil and serene it must have been something else nagging at the back of his head to be frightening him.

"Nate? Dear are you feeling fine?" Nate's mother asked with an equally concerned gaze as her son.

"Uh huh." Nate muttered.


"Um hmm." He responded.

"Don't worry honey it'll be fun." She said with a trying smile as she looked from him to her toddler.

Nate remained silent but this time he gripped his chest tightly and stopped walking. His face became pale and frozen. Before long he was wheezing and coughing. He was paralyzed by his coughing fit preventing him from moving as it always did. He was having an asthma attack. Reacting quickly Nate's mother quickly pulled out her son's inhaler from her purse and handed it to her son.

Cool, sweet mist entered his lungs as he pressed down hard on his inhaler. After a few more gentle coughs Nate shook his head wildly trying to get the painful throbbing in his head and the coughing fits to stop. It had indeed stopped much to his relief and his mother's.

"Nate, sweetie, are you alright?" She asked very concerned.

"Um hmm." He quickly responded before handed back the inhaler.


He shook his round head and sneezed as his small hand gripped her hand before yanking telling her to keep going.

"Don't worry Nate the kids in this neighborhood are nice I've already been acquainted with some of the parents here." Mrs. Dawn assured as she gently squeezed his hand.

For the rest of the short walk the three were silently observing the surrounding trees and houses. The neighborhood was definitely safe and peaceful. As they walked several neighbors working on their gardens and lawns or just sitting on their summer porches waves and exchanged greetings with the mother and child as the pair neared the intersection with Greensboro Avenue.

After turning left the trio continued down the street passing by a red painted house and a white painted house across the street. Beside the red house to its left was a green colored house with a grey triangular roof in a similar manner as The Dawn's house. Smiling at the various nice looking houses the two finally arrived at the playground at the end of the block. The playground was bustling with activity. The main area had a large swing set, sandboxes, jungle gyms, slides, a seesaw, and a few animal teeter-totters all over shredded tires as the ground. The playground was your average sized playground about 50 feet by 50 feet. Children were everywhere running and falling about but all having fun. They must have been a dozen playing on the many different types of playground equipment all laughing and screaming as they fell or were tagged by another kid. Around the playground their parents sat on the benches watching their children playing and talking amongst each other discussing a variety of things from the weather, work, or their children, all sharing stories.

With a smile on her face the trio approached a bench with a table where three familiar adults were busy chatting away. There were two women and a man all happily chatting and laughing as they took sips from their drinks. One of the women, a blonde woman with curly hair noticed the trio coming towards the bench and smiled.

"Hey look who's here." The blonde woman said with an amused leer.

The woman was Gina Carmichael, she had known Mrs. Dawn since they were in college together and had been friends ever since.

"Hey guys." Mrs. Dawn said with a smile motioning her hand to showcase her sons. Nate quietly waved with a small polite smile towards the blonde while Wally reached his chubby arms for the blonde.

"Morning Diana, thought you'd bring your sons out to play it is a wonder day, today." The brown haired man added.

"Morning Bruce." Nate's mother responded with a smile.

Bruce was a large man with broad shoulders and thick brown hair. He had a hearty smile and a burly beard that gave the aura of holiday worth with it. Bruce was an old navy buddy of Mr. Dawn and of her by association.

The blonde woman, Gina, scooted over for the Dawn trio to sit beside her with the other woman, a redhead and Bruce opposite on the other side.

"Awe Wally looks so cute in that outfit." The red haired woman said.

"He sure is." Mrs. Carmichael squeaked in excitement.

"Mind if I hold him?" Susan, the young red-haired woman asked.

"Sure." Mrs. Dawn confirmed as she handed her baby son to her friend. She rested the small baby on her chest and shoulder patting his back lovingly.

Susan Henderson was the kind red-haired beauty across and was a friend of Diana Dawn since third grade. She moved away to Chicago for college but now lived in the same neighborhood she grew up in.

"So how do you liking the new neighborhood?" Mrs. Carmichael asked. She had her blonde hair tied in a pony tail and was dressed in a pair of jeans and a plain yellow Tee giving the image of summer warmth.

"It's fantastic everyone is so nice much better than in the city. So much going on it's good to have a change in pace." Nate's mother said as she was handed her baby back.

"That's good. This place is so great to raise children in you made the right choice for Wally and Nate." The red haired woman smiled. She had slight freckles dotting her face and long straight auburn hair that seemed to be ablaze whenever the sun's light reflected off the tree tops upon the neighborhood. Her red summer dress made her look like a tomato, but in a good way.

"So you guys brought your kids here, too?" Nate's Mother asked resting her elbows on the wooden picnic table.

"Yup, my husband's off at a business trip in Knoxville and the diner's a little slow today so I took the day off to bring Brandon here to play for a while." Mrs. Henderson said.

"My husband's working and since I broke my ankle I go here with Kyle whenever I can." Mrs. Carmichael said as she took a sip of her ice tea lifting her ankle brace in the air to show the raven haired woman.

"Ouch, how did you break it?" Nate's mother asked.

"Fell in the ice rink." Mrs. Carmichael replied.

"What about you Holloway?" Nate's mother said a smile.

"Well since I've been divorced for a few years now since my ex-wife left us when Amy was just a baby. So I've been working at Philip's new jewelry store, the new store downtown." The man said as he bit down on a sub sandwich.

"Wow really Philip has already two stores?" Mrs. Dawn asked in surprised.

"Yup, so I'm working as his business partner and we're hoping to set up a few more by next year." Mr. Holloway responded.

"So Diana, where's Ryan? Is he at work right now?" Mrs. Carmichael asked with a sly smile.

"Yup, he's at the office it's just Wally, Nate, and I." Nate's mother proudly boasted.

"Cool." Mrs. Henderson responded as she took another sip of her ice tea. Her red haired draped down to her shoulders blocking her eyes as the sun continued to rise behind them in the east where the ocean continued to wash over the white sand beaches of Virginia Beach.

The conversation slowly died as the four adults, Nate and Wally sat in pleasant silence while the chaos of screaming and laughing children in the playground continued to their amusement.

After a few minutes three children the same age as Nate walked over from the chaos of the jungle gym. They looked like miniature versions of the three adults sitting on the picnic table. There was a small brown haired girl with pig tails dressed in jean overalls and strangely she was holding a paint set and a small folder with paper, a blond boy with a small purple hoodie with small spectacles, a small wooden recorder, and a red haired boy with a taller statue than the other two dressed in a sweaty white Tee and jean shorts and flip flops holding a blue shovel and bucket. As they walked towards the table the three adults turned with smiles and greeted the young new comers.

"Hey sweetie, having fun?" Mr. Holloway asked as the girl handed over her paint set and bag.

"Um hmm." The girl responded and shook her head with a smile.

"Me and Kyle were playing with Amy's paint and look what we drew. Look mommy look!" Brandon, the reddish brown haired boy said proudly.

"Here look." Amy said pulling out a large sheet of paper the size of herself from her bag revealing a beautiful water color painting showing a lone tree on a hill in the foreground.

Amy had drawn the center painting and by the looks of it she was definitely talented. This was very good for a child her age but then looking around the image her father noticed stick figure wars and poorly drawn stars most likely drawn by her friends.

The two other boys stopped behind her smiling proudly at their own drawing which their mothers simply giggle to each other at the obvious talent being shown by the iron anvil falling on a stick man. The two smiled to each other grinning before walking to their respective mothers' side. The auburn haired boy sat on Mrs. Henderson's lap while the blond boy sat on Mrs. Carmichael's left scooting slightly to give her son room to sit.

"Amy say hello to Mrs. Dawn." Her father said.

"Hello." Amy said with a smile revealing her teeth or lack of. She had a large gap in her smile revealing she had lost some of her baby teeth.

"Good morning Amy, these are my sons, Wally and Nate." Nate's mother said with a smile introducing her son sitting next to her and her infant resting on her shoulder. His face was barely above the table revealing his beautiful emerald eyes that made the brown haired girl smile.

"Hi!" Amy said waving her hands wildly and jumping up and down.

"Hi." Nate nervously responded before hiding behind his mother's arm.

"Hey, cool shirt." Kyle the spectacled blond said pointing to Nate's star shirt.

"Thanks." Nate said with the smallest of smiles.

"Mommy can you get me that shirt, too?" Kyle asked pulling on his mother's white tee.

"Maybe sweetie, maybe I'll get you one for your birthday but not now okay? Hey, Diana, where did you buy that shirt for Nate?" Mrs. Carmichael asked.

"I got it for Nate at the Hummel Planetarium in Richmond last summer before we moved here from the city." Nate's mother explained.

"You lived in the city?" Brandon asked with wide eyed curiosity.

"That's right." Mrs. Dawn said with a grim.

"Cool! What's it like!?" Brandon asked looking towards Nate.

"It's fun. There're lots of cars and big buildings, too." Nate said raising his hands showing how big the buildings were. He now had a visibly smile on his face and a gentle sparkle in his emerald eyes. His grip on his mother's hand loosed slightly much to his mother's relief.

"Okay fellas let's go make a sand castle now." Amy said leaping off her father's lap onto the wet dew covered grass.

"Ya!" Kyle and Brandon cheered as they too leaped onto the ground following closely behind.

"Hey Nate why don't you go play with them I'm sure they could use help with the sand castle." Mrs. Henderson said as she wiped the dirt and wood chips from her dress.

"Ya come on Nate we need help if we're building the awesomest castle ever!" Brandon said.

"I don't know." Nate said twirling his fingers together looking down at his small sneakers.

"Ahh! Come on it'll it be fun!" Kyle added adjusting his glasses.

"Come on Nate you can use my shovel Amy said smiling revealing her tooth gap and holding out her pink shovel.

"Go on Sweetie don't be shy." His mother hummed rubbing her son's short raven hair.

"Okay." Nate sighed as he leaped off quickly running to the trio of kids.

"Alright the sandbox is over here follow me!" Brandon said as he ran towards the sandbox at the opposite corner of the sandbox from the street.

The four quickly disappeared in the chaotic mess of running children and the screaming and the laughing of the many school kids.

Back at the picnic table the four adults watched as their children disappeared into the bustling crowd. Diana smiled at the sight of her older son finally socializing with children his own age and sighed in relief lifting Wally and handing him to her red haired friend.

"Awe, come here Wally." She said with a loving smile as she allowed the baby to fall asleep.

"So Diana, I'm guessing Nate hasn't been around kids his age that much has he?" Amy's father questioned taking another bit of his sandwich.

"No he really hasn't. He's always been so quiet usually preoccupied with watching TV or reading." Nate's mother admitted.

"Nothing wrong with that but I think it's good that he's playing with other kids especially our kids." Mrs. Carmichael said.

"Damn straight." Mr. Holloway added sipping his coffee.

"Agreed." Mrs. Dawn said as she looked up towards the tree tops resting her back against the bench. The sun shined brightly as they watched the children play smiling and content with the peaceful serenity the oak and acorn provided with their protective shadows.

"There we go!" Amy declared as she lifted her purple plastic bucket revealing a perfectly shaped sand tower.

The castle was humongous, as tall as the four were tall sitting down. The castle had four corners with bucket shaped towers and thick sand walls.

"Cool look it's the biggest!" Kyle smiled as he brushed the sand of his wooden recorder and his purple hoodie.

"Now all it needs is something on the top." Brandon resounded.

"But what?" Amy pondered looking up as she placed her hand under her plump chin.

"Um, maybe a star?" Nate nervously suggested before falling silent again as Amy looked at him with a hard glare.

Her stare made him shiver as she furrowed her brow. Her face along with her pig tails made her look for a moment like an amusing cave man. But just as soon as her hard look appeared she beamed revealing her tooth gap again.

"Good idea!" Amy cheered clapping her hands together.

Um hmm." Kyle added with a grin as he blew into his recorder playing some simple tone.

"Ya that's a cool idea." Brandon supplied.

Nate smiled as Amy handed him a star model from her bag.

"You want me to put the last piece on?" Nate asked with a surprised tone.

The three friends shook their head and smiled.

"Okay." Nate smiled a genuine smile.

Packing on the mustard colored sand Nate gently placed the mold onto the castle's roof. Quickly pulling the spent mold off the fragile castle Nate sighed relief that he didn't mess up.

"YAY!" the other three cheered as they raised their hands in the air.

"Good job Nate!" Amy smiled.

"Ya that was awesome now it's finished!" Kyle added.

The four exchanged stares and looks as they sat around the large star sand castle. As Brandon was about to speak he was interrupted by a screech across the field.

"Hey guys, we're playing hide-and-seek want to join?" A loud girl's voice called out.

It was Becky one of the neighborhood kids. Her Curly blonde hair sparkled in the sunlight as she waved her friends to come over. She was surrounded by a growing crowd of kids eagerly awaiting the next round of hide-and-seek.

"Sure Becky!" Amy returned with a shout.

"Come guys let's go!" Kyle pressured grabbing his recorder tucking it in his sweater.

"Can I come?" Nate quietly requested.

"Of course come on!" Brandon said running towards the gathering group of kids in the center of the soccer field.

Kyle followed behind closely running with his hoodie swaying in the warming air of now late morning. Amy followed behind before turning around to look at Nate.

"Come on!" Amy said with a smile which made Nate smile, too.

With that the two joined Brandon, Kyle and the dozen other kids gathering around Becky, the quirky looking blonde. As they entered the crowd they grew quiet as Becky, standing on a plastic Lego box began to speak.

"Okay guys we're playing hide-and-seek and here're the rules for you newbies. Number one, the first one caught is it next time. Number two, when you're it you have to count to one hundred. And number—." She was cut off by the wave of a small hand.

"But I can't count to one hundred." A short chubby boy said.

"Then learn!" Becky amusingly rebutted.

"And rule three, since my daddy works at the candy factory downtown the kid caught last gets a bag of candy."

A chorus of cheers erupted at the chance of a bag of sweet delights.

"Alright I'm it first so hide!" Becky screeched. And with that the dozen or so kids dispersed into the lawns and surrounding trees.

Amy, Kyle, and Brandon disappeared into the lawns across the street leaving Nate nervously alone in the center of the field with Becky counting to one hundred out loud.

"Forty-one, forty-two, forty-three—."

"Oh no! Where do I hide?" Nate whispered to himself as he looked around for a place to hide.

Looking around he noticed he was alone beside Becky who was it. He noticed a few kids hiding in the bushes a few yards away. They would be caught quite easily since the bushes were lit throughout with the late morning sun. Looking towards the end of the field he noticed a small pile of freshly cut grass. An idea sparked in the young boy's head as he smiled widely. Running towards it he knew exactly where he would hide. Leaping into the pile of grass Nate was immediately attacked by the unsurvivable itchiness of the wet and scratchy grass.

"Great." Nate said tossing grass all over his small frame and just in time.

"Ready or not here I come." Becky's distant voice called out.

Nate froze and tensed up as he heard her footsteps go in passing around him before disappearing. He signed in relief as he relaxed. But then he tensed up again as the fingers of the grass tickled and scratched the little boy. This would be long wait and he knew it but hey a bag of candy was a worthy prize of a 5 year old kid right?

The minutes passed and eventually most of the children were caught. Amy was found hiding under a bench, Brandon in the large oak tree above his house, the white painted house passed by Nate and his mother a few hours ago. Brandon lived across Amy's red house and Kyle lived next to Amy living in the dark green house seen earlier. Kyle was found fairly quickly he had hid in the sand box covering himself in sand much to his mother's disapproval. After a few more minutes the last of the kids were caught, all except for Nate. He still remained brutalized by the itchy grass that covered him.

"Maybe they forgot about me." Nate thought as he started to wheeze again from the dusty grass. A tear ran down his cheek as he berated himself for actually thinking he was making friends. Maybe he was right; maybe going along with Amy and the others was a mistake. He wiped his tear as another formed. The silence of his hiding place was shattered when he heard his name being called.

Did they really care?

"Nate?" A voice called out.

"Nate, where are you?" called out another.

"Come out Nate you won!" A now familiar voice called out. It was Amy. Her soft voice called out for him followed by Kyle's fresh suave voice.

"Nate? Nate!?" Kyle hollered.

"I'm here!" Nate shouted wiping his tears away. As he crawled out of the grass pile he felt the warm air brush against him as he shielded his eyes allowing them to readjust to the bright amber light.

"Nate!" Amy shouted hugging the raven haired boy. "Here Becky's dad came by with some bags." She aid handing Nate a small brown paper bag filled with chocolates and jolly ranchers and many other candies and treats.

"Wow thanks!" Nate sang as he looked inside.

"Jeez Nate you're really good hider!" Brandon said puffing his cheeks as he caught his breath. He had been running for a while helping find the other kids.

"Ya that was awesome I would never have thought you were in the grass!" Another kid said with a smile.

"You're really good Nate." Kyle added.

"Thanks." Nate thanked as he pulled out a chocolate bar and opened it.

His face was covered in chocolate in now time much to the others amusement.

"You sure are a weird one Nate. I like you!" Amy said happily and innocently with a smile.

"Ya you have to teach us." Brandon said as he wiped his nose.

"Thanks." Nate responded.

"Wanna be friends?" Amy asked. The other kids shook their head in agreement.

"Really?" Nate asked feeling a strange warm feeling in his weak heart.

"Sure! You're nice and cool and awesome." Brandon said.

"Sure!" Nate said with the widest grin you ever saw. They didn't realize it but this was the beginning of something truly special.

The group exchanged excited glances and whispers before Becky spoke out.

"Alright new game, Robbie's it, everyone hide!"

And with that the group dispersed once again for another round of hide and seek. They played a few more rounds of hide and seek and each round saw the dwindling of the group as one by one they left to go home or play something else. Eventually only Brandon, Kyle, Amy, and Nate remained while the others moved on to greener pastures with their parents across the field in the playground. It was noon now and the sun loomed high above the neighborhood casting stout hard shadows. Walking towards the playground they heard their parents call out for them.

"Amy! Time for lunch bring your friends over we're going for ice cream." Amy's father shouted towards the four waving his large arm for the kids to come over.

Nate's mother was next to him with a wide grin on her face. She was so proud that her socially inept son had finally found some friends and perhaps this would spur something in him.

"YAY ICE CREAM!" The children screamed except for Nate. Nate didn't like raised his voice. He simply smiled and quietly trailed behind his new boisterous friends.

"Mind if we tag along?" Nate's mother asked with a smile.

"More the merrier there's plenty of space in Bruce's car." Mrs. Henderson said with a smile lifting her son, Brandon into her arms.

"Alright come you two there's plenty of room in the van." Mr. Holloway said a smile pointing to Nate, Wally and their mother.

"But next time Gina you're car pooling." Amy's father smiled pointing to Mrs. Carmichael who raised her arms in mock surrender.

"Come on sweetie let's go get ice cream." Nate's mother said with a smile as the children lead the way for the adults to Mr. Holloway's blue GMC Savana Passenger Safari Condo MX that was parked on the street ahead.

Piling in the nine quickly buckled up as they drove off to Norfolk Avenue a few blocks down Greensboro and up towards the beach. The drive was fairly quiet the adults exchanged a few remarks on the scenery mostly Mrs. Dawn since she was new to this area. The children on the other hand were as boisterous and noisy as ever. They were nearing a red light as Brandon was telling a exciting exaggerated tale of his trip to Boston last summer story.

"And then my daddy went over and socked the bad man in the face then the cops came to take him away." Brandon exclaimed proudly. His father was a gym teacher at one of the local middle schools as well as one of the soccer coaches of the local youth soccer league. Last summer Brandon's father had subdued a would-be-robber and that sparked an ember in the little boy and made him very proud of his father.

"Wow!" Kyle said with doe eyes.

"Ya, that's cool. Daddy you ever sock anyone before?" Amy asked innocently as she scooted closer towards the driver's seat.

"Ya, plenty of times back when I was in the Navy. My buddies and I would spar a lot on our downtime like Ryan." Mr. Holloway said with a nostalgic smile looking back to Mrs. Dawn.

"You and Ryan fought?" Nate's mother asked with her hand on her baby boy's back who was strapped to a safety seat.

"Sure did and I'll tell you for an insurance salesman he is far from a pushover." Mr. Holloway chortled.

"What about you mom? Ever hit anyone?" Kyle asked.

"What! No of course not! Hurting people is wrong, Kyle." The young blonde woman said from the passenger seat.

"It's only bad if you do it on purpose to hurt someone. It's okay if you're protecting yourself or someone else." Amy's father stated.

"Got it Amy?" Mr. Holloway added looking at his daughter who shook her head.

Brandon listened carefully and something in him sparked. He knew when that day came where he'd have to fight he would do it. He smiled at the thought of being a hero. To protect those he cared for just like his father.

"We're here!" Mrs. Henderson said pointing to the small ice cream eatery at the corner of a bustling downtown street.

"YAY!" The children cheered except for Nate of course. He simply felt a rush of energy in himself as they parked just outside the café.

The eatery was not your standard ice cream shop if you were a local. Even though it had no sign out in front it was well recognized for its many flavors and atmosphere. It was a corner café with a few high tables with stools each under an umbrella.

Emptying the van the eight proceeded into the café. The diner was fairly crowded most of the table booths were filled except for two in the far left corner, one for the adults and one for the three kids and their new friend. As they sat down at their respective tables the adults with Wally in the far left corner from the entrance and the children beside them. Nate sat on the inside next to Brandon and across the table were Kyle and Amy. The roar of the busy ice cream shop was deafening as Mr. Holloway moved from his seat beside Nate's mother and her baby boy to the counter to order them all ice cream.

Over at the adult table Mrs. Dawn, Mrs. Henderson, and Mrs. Carmichael were chatting away much like their children behind them in the other booth.

"I'm so glad you guys invited us. Nate loves ice cream." Mrs. Dawn smiled as she wiped her blouse.

"No problem Diana, he seems really happy to be playing with kids his age." Mrs. Carmichael said.

"And it seems they like Nate. I'm glad my son is playing with a nice quiet boy for once. He's always been the rowdy one of the three of them." The red haired woman added.

"Brandon?" Nate's mother asked.

"Um hmm. He's always starting fights and getting in trouble with the neighbors." Mr. Henderson added.

"Well hopeful Nate can calm him down. Nate seems to always bring out the best in people." Mrs. Dawn said.

"I hope so." The red haired woman responded.

The three notice movement to their right as they saw Mr. Holloway walking over from the counter with a tray of bowls.

The children applauded as he came over and headed them their cold treats.

"Thanks dad!" Amy smiled as she dug into her chocolate mousse.

"Thanks!" Brandon shouted scarfing down his orange sorbet.

"Ya thanks, Mr. Holloway!" Kyle added as he spooned an ice cream covered banana slice into his eager mouth.

"Thank you." Nate quietly uttered.

While the others dug into their bowls like hungry piranhas Nate looked at them quietly before looking at his bowl and frown.

"Something wrong Nate? Do you not like strawberry because I can switch it with something else if you don't like." Amy's father offered.

"No! no, it's not that I—you didn't have to buy me anything." Nate recoiled.

Amy's father simply smiled rubbing his large hand over the 5 year old boy's shiny black hair and chortled heartily.

"Nate, you too considerate for your own good you need to enjoy yourself sometimes. Don't worry about it. It's my treat have fun." Amy's dad assured with a smile before walking to the other booth where the other parents were waiting.

At the adult table the three adults commented on the frozen desserts. Nate's mother spoon fed small amounts of her vanilla ice cream to her baby son whom seemed to enjoy the treat a lot.

Back at the kids' booth the three had finished their bowls except for Nate whom still had not touched his bowl.

"Come on Nate eat it before it melts!" Amy said wiping her chocolate covered face and revealing her tooth gap.

At first Nate approached his ice cream quietly but as soon as his tongue touched the sweet strawberry frozen custard he went wild scarfing it down much to his new friends' amusement. They chuckled and giggled as their new odd friend finished his bowl. He was like a wild animal and in no time his face was pink with strawberry custard.

"Wow this is so good!" Nate declared with a wide grin.

"I know right! Kyle, Brandon, and I come here all the time you should come here again." Amy declared to which Nate eagerly nodded.

"Mom, can we come back tomorrow?" Kyle asked adjusting his glasses and putting his wooden recorder into his hoodie pocket.

"Sure." The blonde woman said.

"Same here, but you're paying next time." Mr. Holloway added pointing to Mrs. Carmichael.

"Awe come on." Gina jokingly groaned.

"Mommy! Can we come here again tomorrow?" Brandon asked with puppy eyes.

"Only if you finish dinner tonight and not toss your greens around like yesterday." The red haired woman grinned.

"I promise." Brandon declared standing on the red leather seat and placing a hand on his heart.

"Can we bring Nate too?" Kyle asked looking over to his quiet black haired friend.

"If it's okay with Nate's mom." Mr. Holloway stated as he looked over to Mrs. Dawn in the corner.

"Well Nate?" Mrs. Dawn asked.

"Can we?" Nate asked with a hint of eagerness.

"Of course." She smiled as she finished her bowl and wiped Wally's cream covered cheeks.

"YAY!" The children cheered.

This time Nate joined in the celebration.

"What time is it?" Mrs. Henderson asked.

"It's—wow! It's 5:34 already!" Mr. Holloway exclaimed as he looked at his watch indicating it was mid way in the evening.

"Well I think we have to head home now. I need to get ready to work soon. Ryan should be home soon and he'll probably be worried I didn't pick up his calls." Mrs. Dawn said as she stood up from the table with Wally in her arms. The now emptying café was quieting now as orange light from the west beamed into the now closing diner.

"Same here too it's getting late come on Brandon." Mrs. Henderson said.

"Aww!" Brandon groaned as he followed his mother outside to the Van.

"Come on Nate! I'll take you and mom home." Mr. Holloway offered as he stood up.

Mr. Holloway and his daughter, Amy followed closely behind Brandon and his mother then by Kyle and Mrs. Carmichael leaving Mrs. Dawn, her infant son in her arms and her beloved son Nate alone in the eatery.

"Come on Nate let's go."

With that the nine piled into the large van and drove off from the now emptying streets toward the neighborhood as the orange sun rested just below the tree tops. From the sun's light, a large hill could be seen in the outskirts of the neighborhood. The hill was quiet large with a massive oak resting atop the green hill that towered above the low lying buildings. After a few minutes of driving and a few more stories and laughs they arrived at the Dawn's residence. The blue house glowed as the van stopped in front of the house. Nate's father was home already; his Ford Explorer sat in the driveway.

"Goodbye Diana we all had a blast today!" Mr. Holloway said with a smile poking his head out the driver's window.

"Same here." Mrs. Dawn replied gripping his son's hand.

"Bye Nate! See you tomorrow!" Amy waved energetically.

"Bye Bye! We had a lot of fun let's play at my house tomorrow!" Kyle added.

"Sure!" Nate replied with a wide smile.

"See ya Nate!" Brandon added as the sliding door closed in front of them.

Brandon's and Kyle's mothers poked their head out and smiled at the pair.

"Good night Diana! Good night Wally! Good night Nate! Tell your father we said "welcome to the neighborhood!" The two women shouted from the window waving goodbye as the car drove off down Rudee toward their homes on Greensboro leaving the three standing alone on their lawn. Wally had fallen asleep in her arms and Nate felt the throbbing tiredness in his legs from all the running and walking he had done today.

"Come on sweetie your father is probably wondering why we're not home." Nate's mother smiled as she opened the red front door.

The room was lit from a floor lamp in the living room showering the interior with golden incandescent light. Walking into the living room and locking the door behind them they found Nate's dad resting in his arm chair with soda in hand watching the game. His office clothes still on him but tangled in a wrinkled mess.

"Nate, Diana where were you guys you had me worried." Mr. Dawn said adjusting his position.

"We were at the playground down Greensboro. I meet some parents and their kids they're really nice." Nate's mother explained.


"Yup." She replied.

"Awe, Wally's asleep."

"He sure is." Nate's mother said laying the sleeping baby into his crib.

"Hey Nate did you make any new friends?" His father asked with a smile as he took a sip from his orange flavored soda.

"I sure did dad, I sure did." Nate smiled brightly as he squeezed his mother's hand. This wasn't a squeeze of distress or angst but of relief and bliss and she knew it making her smile, too.

The sun slowly sank below the horizon as dusk swept over the neighborhood and the bustling metropolis just to the north. Virginia Beach was a busy city and it wouldn't sleep tonight but Nate would for sure, since he now had something worth walking up for.

Author's Note: Thank you guys for reading the first chapter in this story. I would appreciate it if you guys reviewed this first chapter and leave me positive feedback. And if you enjoyed this first chapter and want to see more follow and/or favorite. It's your choice. Thanks again and I hope to see you guys in the next update soon!