by Dan Cardoza I have a clear memory of moments, a moment, of a Saturday without direction, you afraid to lose your way, me, fearing I wouldn’t get lost.A late August pick-nick in the park is much more than a vision. It’s still hot, cauterized. I watch you navigate you’re way to the hamburger booth. I stand a ghost in the crowd. In the distance, I sip coke. You reach the stand, shuffle your way forward through the valley of legs, adults and teens overlook you, distracted in a hum and thrum of conversation. Steadily, you nudge your way forward, never retreating. Being raised polite you wait for, ‘next?’ It doesn’t arrive.Looking upward, you ask the attendant with your inside voice, “Hot dog & soda, please?” He doesn’t hear you.“I’ll have a hot dog and soda, please!” you politely request again.After he listens to your outside voice, he glances sideways, and then down at you, looks at you like the puppet we saw at the puppet show in March, not the ventriloquist.“Sure sweetie,” he says in best dad voice.“Thank you,” you say, and then look at your shoes, still tied.When the vendor turns to his chore, you again enter your secret sanctuary. You begin working your tiny hands like a time-lapse jig-saw puzzle, expecting them to remember the maze of your journey, to and from our pick-nick table, now out of site.I feel sad we are both vulnerable. You, afraid of losing your way, me worrying I might not get lost fast enough.As I observe, I think of flowing away in a stream, away from the responsibility of being your father, paying the bills, the anxiety of cubicles, away from getting older.I think about a stream that flows through a delicious valley orchard of anonymity, pleasure, as it rivers and wanders off course, like Huckleberry’s Mississippi, then I imagine it swell, flood.
I am aware how still my hand is on the coke can, my other hand coffined in my pocket. I feel like burning maps.As the yarrow of summer blossoms into the next yellow summer, so time passes. In recalling the moment, my thoughts too have progressed.More alone each day, I imagine a path in the teal wood, as it begins to inhale the beginning of darkness. I recall a moment in my childhood Cub Scout class, when Mrs. Hildreth declares, “Boys, scatter bread crumbs behind you on hikes, or mark trees along the pathway. This will keep you from getting lost,” she says. Then smiles, “I am only kidding about the breadcrumbs, that’s only in fairy tales.”She died years ago. I anticipate she found her way?
You daughter, have children of your own now. I see their courage. Of course, they use GPS, not hand map .gifs.We all seem ok where we are.That Saturday is gone, years flow, days wash days, our shared moment, now just another day of the week, Saturday.The End About the Author:Dan has a MS Degree. He is the author of two Chapbooks, Nature’s Front Door & Expectation of Stars. Partial Credits: 101 Words, Amethyst, UK., Chaleur Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, California Quarterly, Curlew, UK., Dissections, Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Foxglove, Friday Flash Fiction, Frogmore, High Shelf Press, Oddball, Poetry Northwest, The Quail Bell, Skylight 47, Spelk, Spillwords, The Fiction Pool, Urban Arts, Unstamatic, and Vita Brevis.