Thursday, June 16, 2011

Counting the Miles

Lightning flashes.
“Seventeen . . . eighteen . . .nineteen . . .twenty . . .”
Thunder rolls.
Four miles, Mommom!”
Four miles doesn’t mean a lot when you’re six. You understand vaguely that it’s a long way to walk, but a short way to drive, and you don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it.
Especially not right now. Right now, you’re focusing on the storm. Raindrops strike the roof and sidewalk like bullets, streaking furiously past the windows.
The swing creaks; the sound familiar and reassuring in the chaos of the storm. We whisper to one another, “Remember when the swing crashed through the window?” and glance excitedly at the Plexiglas behind us: the window into the cozy, well-lit living room. The window seems ominously near, and very fragile. We slow the swing and snuggle closer to Mommom.
Lightning flashes.
“Nine . . . ten . . .”
Thunder rolls.
“Two miles, Mommom!”
“Yes, it’s getting close,” she says, generously joining us in our excitement.
Everything is exciting when you’re six. You haven’t yet learned that good times end, that people move to new places, that you have to grow up.
You’d think, having learned this, that adults would be even more excited than children, that they’d want to make the most of their joy while it lasts. Instead, they mourn the good times gone.
Lightning flashes.
Thunder rolls.
The storm is upon us.

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