Red, yellow-gold and brown fall leaves. Damp smell of winter coming. Football field full of spike treads. Sand dune awaiting snow for sledding. Wind whistles briskly, though occasionally. Back to school pride. The favored impressions rise, studies sports a kind teacher a secret crush your scope and maybe even one particular cafeteria food that doesn’t suck like ice cream bars after pizza Friday.
Gather good memories up with the leaves. A pile to jump in and savor, toss anything in the air, watch colors rise and fall and be taken by a breeze. Wrestle in maple, oak, beech, birch debris then burn it for warmth in the daily quickening dusk. Smoke whips about in different directions, blue and white swirling. Another endless summer at end, for now forgotten for the anticipation of being older wiser more mature than ever before and anyone our age before, other than Jesus probably and maybe Buddha. More than any adult we knew of, other than Mr. Bernstine. We believed God had surely blessed us, blessed all of America – the US of America.
We spread the day’s newly fallen leaves to spell large the initialed letters of our school across the Sand Dune of St. Mary – in teachers’ respect, our team loyalty, for our pride and because we are dimly aware the coming winter will mark our last days on her hallowed sands. We will not forget, although we know we have other interests with other places to be soon. We pour gasoline, ignite.
The fire races quick up and across the letters, lights up the dune, the sky. We are awed as winds sweep burning embers up into the air – until we hear sirens, see flashing lights on the two track. We agree to meet by willow tree on the block corner and we flee by different paths. We meet and agree no one speaks, no doubt Michael Immanuel David will be blamed after the other fire he started at the Pines and so forth. The embers which swept over St. Mary’s dune crest and burned down Farmer Cabochon’s shack will be assigned to him. His guilt will protect us, so long as no one ever speaks of it even to one another.