100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

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Just about every individual atom in the universe, every last bit of the stuff that builds me, is nearly fourteen billion years old.

Last night was great. We played in leaves.

Every afternoon, we have commitments to fulfill, but, somehow, this afternoon fell open and free. It’s all Columbus’s fault. Places were closed, events were canceled. We arrived home and readied ourselves for launch and then…nothing. We realized that we were expected nowhere.

So I mowed the lawn. Well, I mowed some of the lawn, and then I raked a bunch of lawn, and then I mowed some more, and then I raked some more. For this last raking I insisted the smallest boy help while his brothers were accomplishing homework. And he was an enthusiastic if not efficient helper, but who the hell wants efficiency when raking leaves on a warm Autumn day as the sun sinks and a puppy dashes around as if she’s discovered the magic of caffeine? So we raked, and raked, and then the middle boy came out, homework be damned, and we raked some more. And then we did a bunch of jumping and rolling and somersaults (not me) and we raked some more.

I stood under the oldest boy’s window and called up to him. No answer. I looked for a tiny pebble or two to toss at the glass, but there was nothing in the back yard but bricks and large stones and I didn’t want to get in trouble with, you know, his parents. So I yelled some more and finally he cracked his window and scowled at me.

“I’m not done with my homework yet,” he said.

“Homework, shomework!” I cackled.

“Mother,” he reprimanded, sternly. “I still have two assignments.”

“Just one jump!” I said. “One jump and then you’ll be energized!”

“Fine.”

He sounded so doomed. As if I was asking him to come down to the yard and roll across hot coals wearing only a pair of boxers.

He came. He leaped, if walking thickly through the pile counts as a leap. Then he lectured us on a certain battle of the French and Indian War. “If only the general had listened to his common soldiers, the whole thing would have never happened!” Then he headed back inside. The rest of us, me and the two smaller boys, looked at each other in bafflement, and then went back to jumping, rolling, and raking.

You know that night. The one that is as warm as summer and lovely to the touch, but still feels like the end of something sweet and specific.

4 thoughts on “100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

  1. I came here for your lovely pictures but must say I absolutely love the way you use your words. And, while I agree that the ending feels like the beginning, I think that sums up the gist of this story perfectly 🙂

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