FIREWORKSHalfway Down the Stairs
It was hot. Not just ordinary hot, but the oppressive, sticky, stultifying heat that breeds madness. It had been that way for a week, unusual in this harbour city. The beaches were crowded, entire families escaping their homes in the hope of some relief in the cool ocean. The crowds were even bigger today, everyone wanting the best possible spot for seeing the fireworks that would be launched from a pontoon at the end of the pier. The display was scheduled for nine at night, but by five the beach was barely visible beneath a carpet of blankets, hampers and umbrellas.
A Fly in Amber
At first glimpse, the car is not ominous. Nothing about it suggests that it might change my life, although it is the kind of car you’d notice even if this weren’t a small town where everyone knows everyone else. The chrome gleams and flashes in the afternoon sun. Every head turns to look as it passes slowly down Main, all glossy black paint and white-wall tires. I’m standing outside the post office and can’t see the driver at first with the sunlight bouncing off the windshield, blinding me. As the car cruises by, I catch a glimpse of him through the too-long dark hair that hangs down over my eyes. It’s not much: a worn-leather-jacketed elbow poking through the open window, the impression of a large man, well built and disguising the fact he’s balding by shaving his head. A shrill laugh shatters my thoughts with its familiarity and I let my eyes slide past to him to see my mother in the passenger seat. I turn my gaze back to the driver and find myself staring into a pair of green eyes that perfectly match my own.
IN THE BEDROOM
The beach was darkening, the pile of driftwood my brothers and I had painstakingly collected ready to be set alight. Kids ran and shouted across the sand while balls and Frisbees flew through the air. Behind us, on the long sloping lawn that led from the beach house to the sand, I could hear the laughter and clinking glasses of our parents and the other adults. It was Saturday night, and our turn to host the weekly barbeque.
As a child, I spent every summer with my family at our beach house. Each summer had a similarity, a pattern to it that was effortless and familiar. Yet when I look back, each year had its own theme, one thing that made that particular summer special or different than the ones the preceded or followed it. The summer I was eight, it was the tree house.
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