Summer camp for boys had been a nightmare of fellowship and other itchy rashes. For weeks, he had tried to find somebody he could like or a hiding place, but they had pestered him with bows and arrows, canoes and climbing ropes. The ropes he liked. He’d strung himself one at home from the top of the swing set and practiced every day. Leaving the ground by force of will, he pulled himself up hand over hand, lighter and less troubled as he rose, distancing himself from camp. At the top, he clambered onto the brace and gazed over the swaying treetops in the direction of home. He hoped they might forget him and leave him be. His mother came to take him away three days early in the old station wagon. At first, she wouldn’t say why. He didn’t care why. The neighbor-boy, she told him at a stop light. She gasped as if something on the dashboard had frightened her. The neighbor-boy, she started again, died in our back yard. She turned to him teary-eyed but with a surreal smile. I told her to bring him in, she said. I told her we could watch him together, but she said, No, let’s have a moment’s peace. He pictured his mother pouring coffee for them in the kitchen, looking out with one eye into the yard, two mothers on a break laughing about their husbands. He couldn’t think of anything to say. He looked at the glove-box latch and wondered if it opened left or right. Mrs. Nosey found him, she continued. You know who I mean, hanging from the swing set. He waited for the rest, the accusation, and knew with stunning finality that there was no rope out of here and every blessed thing had consequences.

Copyright © April 05, 2008 David Hodges

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