The short piece that follows takes me back to my own youth. Maybe it comes right out of my past. Hope it strikes a chord with you, as well.
HECTOR STANDING WOLF AND BILLY YOUNGSTON
“You wanna do it?”
My back went cold from goosebumps while my groin caught fire. We were out in the woods at the old lean-to we’d made back when we were kids. It wasn’t the first time I’d thought about what he was saying. Not by a long shot. But Billy was the white man’s coyote. A trickster. Sometimes he’d come out with these outlandish suggestions and then make a joke of them. Mostly they were for fun, but sometimes they bit.
I didn’t even know why we were best friends. Sons of a white farmer and a Creek carpenter, we were an unlikely pair. White sugar and red pepper, my mom used to say with a shake of her head. But friends we were, ever since we’d laid eyes on one another in middle school five years back.
I remember the first time we went skinny dipping together the summer after we met. We came out of the water with him examining me like I was a mule he was intending on buying, while I snatched furtive glimpses of his equipment. That pretty well summed up the difference between us.
As time went by, our friendship strengthened. On my part, it was almost exclusive, but he was lots more social than I was. I admit to being jealous of his other friends. Seemed like they shared lots more with him than I did. Of course, they did… an entire culture. But it gradually dawned on me that I got more of his time than any of the others. Shoot, than all of the others, and that was what counted.
I didn’t know if half a minute or half an hour had passed since he asked his question, but I answered it anyway.
“Don’t make no difference to me one way or the other.”
The air seemed charged with electricity like when a storm’s approaching. The surrounding pines dropped their sharp scent on us like it was a tangible thing. I grew aware of strange things. The toes in my boots. A beetle crawling over the back of my right hand. A squirrel fussing from the oak tree overhead. And the long, lanky form of Billy Youngston lying beside me.
The world turned normal again as disappointment rose within me. I took a breath and tried to relax my taunt nerves.
And then he reached for me.
I’ll ask the same question I asked last time: Did you ever live this scene? Do you long to relive that moment innocence was lost? I think most of us do.
As always, I’m interested in your reaction. Send comments to email@example.com.
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