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Prompts:

1. Magic shoes   wagon   bikini

2. Entertainment tonight

3. This was just a little something to keep you occupied.

BEGIN WRITING:

I suppose it’s been a dozen years since I’ve visited Las Vegas, maybe more, and to tell you the truth I haven’t missed it at all. It was different when Charlie was alive. Then it was a magical place that cajoled us into taking part in rituals we’d never consider at home.

Slot machines and green felt-covered tables beckoned, and in those faraway halcyon days we’d spend our quarters and half-dollars on a moment’s pleasure with no thought that the moment wouldn’t—couldn’t—last.

It wasn’t the gambling, or the lights and sounds that assailed the senses and called us to join those colorful worlds of the Strip. It was always more about experiencing things together, building the things that would become part of us, although we didn’t realize at that innocent time that entertainment tonight becomes the memory you cling to tomorrow.

But in between the glitz and the careless money shufflers, we moved in our own world, barely touching the Vegas mystique. Charlie and I spent hours people-watching, giggling at the bikini-clad girls—and sometimes boys—pushing food carts down the street in front of posh hotels. We sympathized with children, tired and cranky as parents pulled them along the sidewalks, and we counted station wagons among the cars on the streets. It was marvelous, a little something to keep us occupied until it was time for us to grow up and leave the magic. Shoes, orthodontia, plans for college: the priorities for our spending, and our wonderful boy and girl who needed all these things, became the paramount focus of our lives.

Charlie’s gone now, and so are the children. I’ve been back to the places where we laughed, and some where we cried. The lights and the people are still there, but the magic has disappeared as surely as if

PENCILS DOWN

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