As Tristan lay down in the middle of his rotting childhood treehouse, he remembered the story of Cinderella his younger sister loved so much. He always wondered why the fairy godmother couldn't make her magic permanent. Why would she give Cinderella such a beautiful gift only to take it away? Isn't that cruel: to know that your most beautiful moment in life is doomed to end?

In the far left corner of the room was a pile of foam swords and plastic shields intermixed with a few torn-up swatches of tablecloth that had been used as capes. Tristan let his eyes linger there for a while. In an instant, memories of fighting invisible ninjas, monsters, and super-powered villains came flooding back to him. Memories of four boys racing up to the treehouse to reach for their weapon of choice only to come rushing back down ready to help the defenseless people of the world who couldn't save themselves from whatever evil they decided they were fighting today. Tristan wondered if there were any kids out there trying to save him right now.

In the opposite corner was a box of toy food that Tristan had stolen from his sister's kitchen set. After a long day of fighting, the boys would come back up to the treehouse and pretend that this is where the four of them lived. Because they were so busy saving the world, the only time they were able to "eat" was at night, and so dinner typically consisted of a piece of plastic bread with butter glued to the top, a rubber head of broccoli, and a plastic cup of whatever liquid they would establish it to be filled with beforehand, and all three of these things would be passed around in a circle so that each boy could get his ration. Tristan knew it was all pretend, that eventually, their parents would call them to come back inside to eat real food before heading back to their respective houses, but the four of them living together for the rest of their lives off of fake food in a rickety old treehouse couldn't have felt more right.

He continued to look around at the forgotten trove and realized the magic had left it a long time ago. It was a meaningless hunk of hollow wood... the golden carriage had turned back into a pumpkin.

Back then, Tristan never anticipated that time would catch up to them. He thought that they would be young forever as long as they kept on returning to that treehouse. As long as they kept on fighting fictional evil, as long as they kept on eating plastic food, as long as they were together, nothing would ever change. Of course, they all secretly had individual dreams, ones that would eventually scatter them in directions that were as different as they were far, and Tristan was happy that his friends were going to turn out OK. But every now and then, he would always selfishly wish that those dreams would just stay dreams.

He heaved a sigh and listened as his breath echoed off the empty walls. Was it really so ignorant to hope that they would have been able to remain as close as they were back then? He shook the thought away. It was ignorant and yet, he still held onto it. He knew things would never go back to the way they were and yet, there he was, lying in the middle of the treehouse, waiting for his friends to come running back up to meet him.