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The summer before fourth grade, his parents’ backyard. The wind seldom blew, the

stagnant air smelled sweet. He liked sitting on a wooden lawn chair with red flaky paint, his

chubby frame not yet big enough to fill the seat, dirty white high-tops dangling inches above the

grass.


He often sat there while the afternoon faded and the humidity released the neighborhood

from its grasp, rising off into the dusk. He could watch the swarming of gnats near his mother’s

azaleas or a ladybug struggling up his forearm or count how many revolutions the sprinkler made

while he held his breath. One day, the sky grew black with the quickness of August storms. The

air whipped around him and when it began to rain it poured in sheets that got caught up in the

wind, a wet wall of air aimed, it seemed, directly at him. His mother called from the sliding glass

door, “Get in here,” and as he scrambled to the house, the wind forced water into his eyes no

matter where he looked. The rain, as it sliced to the ground, stung his bare arms and legs. She

met him inside with a beach towel. They both stared out the glass door.


“Would you look at that?” she said, standing behind him.


He shivered as the air conditioner ran cold over him. The glass door was so wet that he

touched it because it seemed as if the rain had soaked through. The wind blew loudly against the

glass and he flinched back, bumping into his mom. “Watch yourself,” she said.


The downpour then ended as fast as it started. With damp hair and wet clothes, the towel

hanging around his neck, he trooped back into the yard.


“Don’t come back in here all muddy,” his mother warned.


The grass swam in wild puddles. He sloshed onto the lawn and squatted to inspect an

earthworm trying to squirm back into the ground. The sun scorched the moist air. He could taste

it, feel it in his lungs. Steam poured off of his favorite chair, its red flaking paint drying

unevenly. There was an anxious, mysterious feeling that came from standing amidst the sun and

vapor and it was easy for a nine year old boy to be moved by the force of nature acting vengeful

and destructive one moment, absolving and regenerative the very next. At least this is what his

parents told him when he described it at dinner.


“You were just excited,” his mother reassured him.


“It’s called evaporation,” said his father, who encouraged him to look it up in the

dictionary.


“You guys don’t get it,” he said. When he went to sleep that night, he tried again to put

his parents’ words over what he’d seen but they didn’t fit. He knew that standing in the yard he

was in the presence of whatever made such moments possible. What he was unable to articulate

to his parents was that there were things there he couldn’t see, but were there, absolutely there,

flirting with him and teasing him by not revealing enough to be known.


Years later he would recall the episode with pride and it wasn’t because he had carried a

portion of his innocent outlook with him. Instead he clung to the word evaporation, which was

somehow a component of his pride, as though in its definition he had found what he needed

finally to best the sucker he used to be.




Aaron's writing has appeared in 322 Review, Umbrella Factory Magazine, Atticus Books online, and The Number Five Magazine. he lives in Brooklyn, NY.

 



I wanted to write about the way memories help shape or color one’s present reality.  In particular I had an idea about a character who built his identity around adulthood and rather than mourning the loss of his innocence he viewed it as a rite of passage worth honoring.





 





  


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