Bob Brody lives in Forest Hills.

Here comes the pitch, a fastball down the middle. You and your friends are playing stickball, going two-on-two in the playground a block from your house. With a broomstick handle and a pink rubber ball, you pitch against a brick wall painted with a strike zone.

The day is hot, the air tropical. Cicadas hum away rhythmically. No one else is around.

It's August 1963. You're a sixth-grader, 11 years old.

Soon it's even hotter, the sky a glaring white haze. Your shorts and shirts stick to your skin. But you keep playing. Play is just what you do - your full-time job.

You play as if you have all day. That's because you do. You have all the time in the world.

Later you might ride your bikes into town, baseball cards flapping in the spokes of your wheels. You'll go to the soda fountain and order a lime rickey for a quarter and park your Bazooka bubble gum under the counter.

After, you'll squat in the cool shadows behind the magazine rack and read the latest comic books, at least until the owner asks you to leave. Then you'll head to the municipal pool, a makeshift beach complete with diving boards and creatures called girls.

Much later, you'll go to junior high and high school. You might actually talk to the girls you see. Much later still, a perfect Italian girl from Brooklyn will marry you and bear two perfect children. An international corporation will hire you to help handle important clients. The yard where you played stickball will be paved over, first for a basketball court, then for an annex to your elementary school.

But that's all later. And no one cares about later, least of all you. None of your friends has started taking Viagra yet, much less lost his hair or his job or his marriage. No foreign terrorist has ever attacked American soil. Everyone you love is still alive - your father, your grandparents, your president.

Nothing bad has happened yet. As far as you know, maybe nothing bad ever will. Besides, it's too soon to think about later. Later will come soon enough.

All you know is now. Each pitch, each swing. The game, the score. Nothing else exists. The stillness and swelter have lulled you into a trance. The future is too far away, and you're still too young to have a past.

Back then, in the dead of summer, a day could still feel long, as elastic as saltwater taffy - almost at a standstill, as if it would never end. After all, you had all day, all the time in the world. Nothing would ever end.