Quilt. Dousing campfire. Toy sailboat. Love letters.

The following passages represent four sequential moments from one of my weathered composition books. 

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A patchwork quilt is spread upon the jagged, broken stalks of last summer’s crop of corn. The colors are dull, uninviting, like the content of our conversation. We’ve drifted here. Those pieces of fabric were selected with bleary eyes and she sewed this trying to depict the way she felt in the days after her grandfather died. Now she too has passed along her spirit to the wind and it blows through your hair and past your lips. No matter how we try not to get pricked by these jagged stalks, there is always a trace of blood left behind on the quilt by dawn. No more simple days to picnic in this part of the county. Those simple careens were only easy because we did not worry to be noticed, and we couldn’t be rejected. We lay there and embraced the only other who mattered. Under the half sky, propelled toward that celestial map so fast we could feel the wind rush as if it blew from straight above.

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Back-woodsy kids playing by the creek. They call it a crick. They catch silver-back crayfish with their skilled hands. The stream flows over their small, worn feet. A piece of me, the happiest piece, is lost in that time. In those days where rain was welcomed since it made the creek rise. It is back there where I would come into the house wearing an absent-minded head and mother would scold my behavior. I’d ruined another pair of “dress” shoes. The imitation suede was coated with a soggy layer of mud, slowly drying into a flaky tan-brown around the outer edges. My feet may have been crossing the threshold into the house and my ears taking a talking to, but my mind was still down in the flowing water, floating makeshift rafts and letting fantasy intrude upon my fledgling imagination.

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“Put the fire out.”

“With what?”

“Give it a golden shower.”

“It’d be a platinum shower. I’m extremely hydrated.”

“Wouldn’t that make it a crystal shower? Like crystal clear.”

“Sure. Clear as crystal.”

“If you were passing a kidney stone it’d be more like a ruby shower and you’d probably burn your junk standing so long above the flames.”

“Would give a whole new meaning to ‘burns when you pee’.”

“Well put out the fire. I want to go inside.”

“Have you ever looked into the eyes of a baby elephant without being overcome with the utmost feeling of regret for not being born into the Swiss Family Robinson? Do you think the mom used to get tipsy off rum and try to seduce adolescent islander males who’d just graduated to warrior status?”

“Coo-coo-ca-cho, indeed, Mrs. Robinson.”

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Parker Meadows had a toy sailboat he loved to pull along the outer perimeter of the city lake. Toy sailboats can be red or white or yellow and some of the fancy models come with a nameplate and a miniature sailor figurine. The city lake was never so clean as it was on the day of the bicentennial regatta.

Parker Meadows had tried to get along with the other children in his neighborhood, but they never wanted to do anything except play stickball and walk the alleys to see if they could find discarded bottles to smash against buildings. He couldn’t play stickball on account of him having what the other kids called a “baby hand” and so he ignored the lot of them and tugged his sailboat most Sundays around the perimeter of the city lake. He wished he was as tall as the little sailor on his boat. Then he could go out to the island in the middle of the lake and live there with giant squirrels.

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The nostalgic romance of the written correspondence with ink and paper will overpower my senses more than any brief electronic message from anyone who has an internet connection or data plan with some corporate provider. When is the last time you received a letter in the mail? Are we not accustomed to seek out the telephone number of a desired other instead of the mailing address of that person? This social programming is a double-edged sword to say the least. “Hey, we should go out sometime. Can I have your address?” The internal response issues immediate red flags in the mind of the addressee – creepy stalker. Still, post-modernity needs more pen pals. More cerebral contact. We need to exchange our feelings and share our inner thoughts. I’m going to write letters, epistles. And I care not to send them. I fall in love too often, maybe I need to love someone born of my mind. My fictional romance.

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