By Jack Wildern
When we were kids the sun was hotter and the summers were endless. On scraped knees we watched ants crawl on the driveway, following them with fingers until they disappeared between the cracks made by dad’s Mondeo. Sometimes, when we felt brave, we would venture all the way to the lamp post and back. Past the safety of the neighbour’s house and in to the unknown territories of sticky tarmac and alien flower beds.
When we played football, we used the curb as a goal mouth. Kicking as hard as we could so that the ball bounced up over our heads and we shouted ‘goal.’ Building epic score lines until dad came home or the rain washed us inside. And that rain. Torrential storms that rocked our old oak tree at night and scattered acorns across the garden. In the morning we would wake to the smell of wet grass drifting in through open windows. We put on cotton t shirts and polyester shorts and hunted little green treasures among the wet leaves and fallen twigs.
In the evenings we sat outside and tried to join in at being adults. Warm air and red forearms giving away to night chills and coats that were way too big for us. And in our beds, lying awake we listened to mumbled laughs and shouts from downstairs. We let ourselves be rocked to sleep by those voices and fell in to dream worlds where monsters lurked, cats flew planes and strange voices called us into adolescence.
So, we followed. Past the lamp post in to places that weren’t so friendly. The football blistered in the garage and we parked our own cars across the curb. The rain distracted us from our hip hop, our rock, our online conversations. We closed the windows and filled our rooms with deodorant cans and makeup. We couldn’t care less about acorns or wet grass or endless summers. Instead we wanted phones and conversations with people that understood our growing pains.
Then we drove away with barely a look back. Not a thought for the curtains or the door that stuck or the old Christmas tree in the loft. And no matter where we went the sun didn’t seem as hot and the grass never smelled as good as it did on those mornings where life was a playground.
Sometimes, at night when my kids are asleep, dreaming away their own endless summers, I open the window so I can hear the rain outside. I like to think of a small house where a little boy and a little girl laugh as they chase ants between the cracks with their fingertips.
Jack Wildern is from the UK. He writes short fiction and lives in Hampshire with his wife and two children. Most recently his work has been published in The Book Smugglers Den. Find out more about Jack through his website: www.jackwildern.com.