Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tonight I had a headache so I took a couple of Advil and lay down with a warm wet cloth over my face. When I woke up, the room was completely dark and this seemed to dislodge an old memory like a loose tooth. I have this memory from when I was 4 or 5 that may or may not be entirely imagined. It hardly matters if it is real or not. The emotional memory of it is as real as anything I've ever felt.

It's a summer day and my brothers have decided to go swimming that afternoon in the pond behind our house. I'm told I can tag along. When I dig out my swimsuit I discover a tear and ask my mother to mend it. As soon as it is fixed I try them on. They're fine and like anyone else who was four or five, I spend the rest of the day running around in my swim trunks pretending to be Tarzan. Jumping from sofa to arm chair and back again is tiring business and I soon fall asleep on the chesterfield wrapped in my towel/cape.

When I awake the house is dark, lit only by the dusklight. I wander the house and no one is home. No one. Convinced that they've all gone swimming without me, I pull on my Road Runner sneakers (slip-on, loafer style Keds) and run through the field down to the pond. Now, I'm not exactly supposed to go to the pond alone but I figured everyone was looking for me so I'd better show up. The only trouble is I get to the pond and no one is there. No one. Maybe I had the wrong spot? I run along the shore thinking they can't be far but I'm wrong. There's no one. No one. By this time it's getting dark so I walk quickly in a panic home through the waist high grass. As I approach the house I see lights on in the kitchen. I'm sure I'm going to be in trouble for either missing the swim or not being home but when I walk into the kitchen no one even notices me. My parents had just come from a church meeting and were still gossiping about how two women from the Church gossip and my brothers (at least two of them) were arguing about a game of softball they had just come from playing in a nearby field (or maybe they were at the Stanley's? Of course, calling their loosely formed games a "game" was always a stretch. Someone threw a ball, someone hit a ball. Someone tried to catch a ball while someone else tried to find bases hidden in the grass.) when I ask my brother if they went swimming he just looks at me and says, "No, we were playing ball" and walks away. Then I ask my mother, "Did you go swimming?" and she says, "You can't go swimming now silly, it's dark out."

Then my question is quickly drowned out by the confusion and bustle that always seemed to rule our house in those days. I made my way down a dark stairway to our rec room and pulled out a book and sat on the floor and flipped through the pages. I don't remember the title but it was the story if a boy who overcomes his fear of the dark by catching fireflies in mason jars with his friends. I wished deeply that there would be a mason jar of fireflies for me but there never was. I fell asleep on that book and woke in my bed never knowing how I got there.

Posted via email from peterrogers's posterous

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