I am a young boy, waiting in the reeds. I crouch and make myself as small as possible, trying not to disturb the small creatures. The soft light of my home ripples in the pond as my mother calls me back inside. I’ve been trying to collect bullfrogs in a small inflatable pool; up to my ankles in mud. The green leaves are as fresh as they can be and in the distance, a faint thunderstorm echoes mildly like knocking on a soft, dead tree. The water in the pond has baked in the sun all day and remains warm to the touch while I run my fingers through the tall grass that extends out of the banks.
Up the hill, my family prepares the dinner table out on the porch; a chandelier of candles drips intermittently and the wax solidifies onto the glass table top. I take my time walking up the drive, cool blue and fresh green painting a summer’s night with fireflies sparkling in the valley between our house and the neighbor’s. Nothing could feel more safe.
I have trouble remembering how perfect it was then, my family was whole – no one was sick or separated. This was our castle on the hill and we ate dinner that night in a suspended oasis, covered from the storm by a plexiglass ceiling fixed to the side of the house. I was lucky. I don’t feel that way as much anymore.