Image: Jean-Daniel Beley
Summer arrived shirts were off.
The boy loved the long days
Endless games in backyards
Exploring the surrounds
Stepping into places forbidden.
From morning till evening
He met with mates
Picked sides, made plans
Some days riding out of town
Some days huddled around someone’s bright idea.
They played along the old train line
Hid from the farmer in the recesses of the bridge
Fished the creek, marvelled at the tiny mud gudgettes.
It was all so carefree
Innocence and no responsibility.
Injury was part of the game
They nursed each other through the pain of falling
Washed each other’s wounds
Band-Aids a plenty, fixed everything.
In time summer meant, shirts on
Lazy Lawler had skin cancers
Marky went crazy, they said from playing with ropes,
Sally had skin rashes that must have been the creek.
The boy was told of dangers
He learned about responsibility.
Age brought with it doubts
Kids moved away
There were fewer games
Neighbours found jobs
Money meant cars
Independence, girls and trouble.
When Petey took his life, everything changed
Gone was his childhood
Anger surfaced as never before
Fingers were pointed
The boy withdrew into his world
Doors were shut
Kids grew silent
As they wondered….
They met a last time
“Growing up is no fun,” said one
They nodded in agreement
The boy went home,
Shut the door to his room
It was better that way.