Ghost time


Last night was “Meet your teacher night” at school. We took Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect and 20 Prospect Jr. up to school to drop off their school supplies, get their room assignments, find out which room they will be in, and which of their classmates will be in their class with them. It’s always a source of excitement, and anxiety for the kids as they worry about whether they will be in the same room as their friends, or stuck with the bullies, and troublemakers. Judging by their moods last night, I’d say we had a successful draw this year.

It is Tuesday afternoon now, and the last few hours of summer are upon us. By nightfall another wave of cool Canadian air should scrub the sky clean of our humidity, and drop our temperature 20 degrees. With any luck, this will be the last of the Mississippi Delta weather for another season. Then come the cool nights of autumn when the ghosts lurk in the shadows on the front porch, waiting for a moment of inattention to sneak up on you like Boo Radley, and remind you of your lost innocence.

Have a seat on the swing Scout and Jeb, and let’s reminisce. I’m sure Dill will be by anytime now to sit on the front porch steps, and watch the moths flutter like atoms around the nucleus of the streetlight. Our lives are measured out by the flickering of those mercury vapor lamps, and our dreams are hidden just out of sight in the shade of the maples. Summer on Prospect Avenue is ending. The rigid structure of school is fast approaching like adulthood. A tyranny of obligations to consume our day in one minute bites.

So the desks are loaded with notebooks, pencils, and school supplies, and the lockers have been assigned. There’s nothing left to do now but wait through that most melancholy of all holidays. A three day weekend of looking at the clock waiting for life to start again. I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. You’d think I was the one entering the 5th Grade, but my days are all the same now. Homogenous in their fluorescent buzz. No smells of chalk dust, or pencil shavings to comfort me, just the glow of a computer screen, and the tick of the clock.

The shadows are lengthening. Darkness is coming. Soon the streetlights will come on, and call down the end of our summer. The ghosts are gathering in the shadows behind the barn. I can feel their cold fingers searching for us, calling us down from our swing on the porch. Autumn is coming, and the porch will belong to memories once more. Close your eyes, and let it go. Eternity waits in the yellowed edges of a maple leaf.

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