When I think of that time, it’s mainly the heat I remember, and the air so thick. The woods in back of the house were lush and green, but the pasture in front was beginning to turn brown from the August heat. Even as the sun set over the ridge, smoldering red, it didn’t get much cooler. The haze of heat dissolved from the fields, but the air was still with moisture and hard to breathe in.
Then it was dark, and it was darker than it has ever been again. Dark as Egypt, my mother would say. No street lights, no security light, the nearest house a half mile away across the fields and shrouded in trees. Coming down the gravel driveway to the raw, red brick house and turning off the car lights, you saw streaks and spots that weren’t there, like the lights inside your eyelids.
Then you and the boy stumbled across the yard in the dark and sat in the swing under the big oak tree. Slowly you could see again, first the dark bulk of the house, and then the stars. There were more stars then, thick brushstrokes of them across the sky. You could actually see the arm of the Milky Way, distant pinpoints in the dark.
A car would pass on the road, lonely and preoccupied. There was the hum of the air conditioner in the window of the house, the high, monotonous peeping of tree frogs, the quiet whuffling of cows, settled down to sleep by the pasture fence. A bird rustled in the tree above your head, shifting its perch. The swing creaked and its chains jingled when the boy suddenly stopped its motion.
Then the moon rose above the ridge, drowning the stars, silvering the ground fog smoking in the hollow. You could almost count the craters on the moon, it was so bright and unnaturally big. And you were not afraid of anything, not anything.
Suddenly the porch light flicked on and off. The boy decided it was time to go. So you went in the house, resentful, not knowing that nothing would ever be the same again.