On The Road
by Chris de Serres
I have these memories of nature. The precious few times. How my body ached from sleeping on the ground. Waking up to cool air, matted hair stuck to my face. The light so brilliant outside that I had to check my watch. We were meant to wake up early. I got lost in the woods and the adults didn’t seem to care so much. An entire day was devoted to building a dam across a creek. I decided to dam a river and the water swept me a half mile downriver. My body never recovered from the shock of cold glacier water. I could hear thousands of crickets in the darkness.
The campfires were centers of my religion. The flame and the crackle, buffered by a chorus of sound from the night creatures. It gets in you and never leaves.
We told scary stories and funny stories.We made our own jokes. It was amazing the things we could come up with. I looked down at my uniform, bright yellow patches reflecting the light. I was 10 years old. It was my birthday. My daughter leaned over and asked me to make her another S’More. We ate many.
The next day my mother made a surprise appearance. She had a large white and blue cake, enough to feed the entire troop. I had this horrible migraine headache. It was from spinning around in circles and making myself dizzy, over and over again. We never thought about consequences.
I boiled some water and started pouring it into the coffee filter. Heat tendrils drifted into my nose. My daughter came out of the tent in her brightly colored house robe. I told her ten minutes and she quickly disappeared amongst the rock formations up the hill.
She reappeared from behind a rock and waved at me. I waved back. Then she went a little further, looked back, and waved again. Just a little further away she goes.
Me and some of the other boys started climbing a tree. We were so high that the thin trunk swung with the breeze. I could see tents spread out below. A boy below waited for me to come down, but I didn’t. So he left. I straddled the trunk, closed my eyes, and put my arms out. The breeze felt so good on my face.
We scrambled to the top of a rock formation and looked down on the campgrounds. She carefully picked a small bouquet of wildflowers and handed me the most beautiful one’s. I told her not to step into bushes. There were rattlesnakes out here. We downclimbed carefully back down a steep gully. A fall here would be serious.
She walked over to the boy in the other tent and said goodbye. Soon we were back on the highway. She leaned over to me and said, “I already miss it.”