One Thing I Can't Live Without - Adventure

A soft breeze rolls across

The hills of my aunt's property.

Wheat nearly ready to harvest

As the Summer quickly draws to close.

Moonlight pours from a cloudless night sky

Onto a canvas of stalks -

Swaying with the zephyr

Like a tide, ebbing, and flowing.

Cheerful crickets sing into the darkness,

As a man guides a group of children;

Stopping at the edge of the crops.

I follow close behind my brother -

Not in fear of the dark,

But anticipation of what lies ahead.

"It's a secret," says Uncle Jerry,

Turning to us children,

As a grin spreads across his face.

He squats to our level,

Raising a finger to closed lips.

He reaches into his dirty overalls,

Unveiling a package of marshmallows.

Hushed squeals of excitement pervade the group.

"Don't tell Ma," Uncle Jerry warns us.

"Or we're all in trouble, ya hear me?"

We nod, with wide-eyes, solemnly.

We understood the gravity.

Ma was the fire you didn't play with;

Mrs. "No-Warning-Shots;"

The devil you could dance with

And never come out on top.

Uncle Jerry's infectious smile returns.

“Then follow me!" He exclaims,

As he bolts through the crops.

We chase after him, on our tiny legs.

Shallow breaths,

Swift feet, 

Rapid heartbeats.

The air in my lungs replaced,

With every passing second;

Pursuing the man ahead,

Wearing tattered clothes,

And painted in moonlight.

My nostrils burn,

With the smell of old country:

Earthy, crisp,

Untainted by city pollution;

With the faint addition of

Livestock manure.

Through the slits of vision,

Granted by small gaps

Where wheat deviated

From its otherwise vertical position,

I can see the farmer stop.

We had reached our destination.

Stalks cease to brush my face,

As I step out into a clearing.

My partners-in-crime pant in unison.

Defying, and outsmarting Ma?

For candy?

The ultimate treasure?

We were rebels - 

We were alive.

The expanse had been liberated

Of the plants that once grew.

A large, barren oval,

Given meaning only by juxtaposition

Of the healthy crops surrounding.

Stumps of wheat shot from the soil -

These crops were harvested in haste.

In the center,

A bundle of sticks had been piled:

Their height reaching near my head.

On opposite sides,

Two gigantic logs lay parallel;

At their farthest end from me,

Lay a blue fold-out chair.

"I made us a spot," Uncle Jerry said,

Gesturing to the middle of the clearing.

"That chair is mine," Uncle Jerry stated.

"But y'all can sit wherever else you want."


Racing to the logs,

Weaving between each other;

Calling who each of us will sit with.


Little legs and little arms,

Scaling oak mountains.

Arms of the successful extend,

Assisting their grounded comrades.

Palms clasp,

Shoes grasp bark.

Dread begins to set in,

As my brother hangs,


The ground beneath

Becomes a lake of lava.

Bubbling, hissing.

We have to pull him up

Aboard the raft of safety!

To let go now

Would mean certain death.

“I can’t make it!”

Cries my brother.

“Go on without me!”

“Don’t give up!”

I insist.

Our grip begins to weaken.

“Don’t let go!”

I demand.

My cousin grabs hold of my waist.

“Heave!” She screams,

As she pulls me backwards.

I fall back onto my cousin,

As my brother launches forward

On top of us.


We cheer in celebration.

Uncle Jerry laughs.

“Are my adventurers hungry?” He asks,

 Revealing the prize once again:


Collective consensus arises:

We are.

Uncle Jerry takes a handful of sticks,

Distributing one to each of us,

And one for himself.

Snapping the longer sticks in half -

Dry, brittle,

And returning them atop the stockpile -

Like a broken city of bones.

Uncle Jerry reaches into his overalls,

Retrieving an archaic silver lighter.

Worn, and scratched,

But still gleaming.

A mirror of the moon.

Uncle Jerry kneels down,

To the base of the firewood.

Sparks, once, twice,

But nothing.

Mumbled curses from Uncle Jerry,

And apologies soon after.

Requests for us to forget

And not to repeat:

“Damned thing is broken.”

Once more sparks, but this time,


Uncle Jerry hovers the flame

Just above the bottom sticks –

Tickling the branch until it ignites.

Uncle Jerry steps back,

As the blaze licks other branches,

Spreading rapidly.

Within moments,

The city of bones

Becomes an inferno.

The heat wave is almost instant,

Like warm kisses

All over my face.

“Yeehaw!” Uncle Jerry exclaims.

“Who’s ready for some roastin’?”

“Me! Me!” We respond,

Waving our sticks in excitement.

Uncle Jerry walks around the fire,

Placing a marshmallow gently

Atop each of our sticks.

I was a wizard –

Better yet a king!

My staff was my authority,

And I would rule candy land.

I would demand the finest:

Candy canes from the North Pole,

Gummy bears from the Forbidden Forests,

And rock candy:

Straight from the royal mines.

I cast my marshmallow into the flame

To accentuate my power.

If they would accept me as king,

With naught but a raw marshmallow;

How much more could I gain

With a perfectly roasted one?


Like the color of my throne.

My rule would be absolute.

The bonfire denied me my wishes -

I misunderstood our boundaries.

I cast my marshmallow too far,

And my gem was set ablaze.

I pulled my scepter back,

But it was too late.

My treasure was consumed.

Turned black as a naughty child’s

Stocking filler:


I sighed.

Perhaps I was never meant to rule.

Uncle Jerry laughed

Upon seeing my marshmallow.

We all did!

I pinched the blackened skin

Off my marshmallow,

And threw it back into the fire.

Though burnt on the outside,

The marshmallow tasted just as good.

Wiping my sticky fingers

On my new blue jeans,

Uncle Jerry began telling stories:

Stories of adventures.

Chivalrous knights

Fighting fire breathing dragons,

Daring pirates

Battling for treasure,

And a warrior named “Achilles”

Who was almost unkillable.

He pointed out constellations,

As he told us their stories:

The Big Dipper,

The Little Dipper,





Wecouldn’t see all of them, though.

The night grew older,

As Uncle Jerry began playing harmonica.

He promised to teach me one day

If Ma ever bought one for me.

Something told me she wouldn’t.

Fatigue grew in my eyes,

As my gaze shifted upwards.

My cousin leaned on my shoulder,

Already asleep.

My brother stared into the fire,

Determined not to succumb

The same way my cousin did.

I watched embers lift from the fire:

Like ballerinas,

Twisting, turning, dancing,

Ascending into the sky,

Eventually losing their glow,

And vanishing into the night.

I tried to recall the constellations

As Uncle Jerry pointed out…

But I could only remember the Big Dipper.

Half-awake, I dreamed:

Dreamed of my own adventures.

Could I be a knight?

A pirate?


In that moment I knew:

Though I may not be strong,

Or brave,

Or handsome,

I needed adventure.

The rush of adrenaline,

The thrill of the chase,

The ecstasy of conquering.

If there were no heroes like me,

I would become my inspiration.

I would rise from nothing,

Defeat the odds,

Prove everyone wrong;

I would become a legend.

The crickets began to grow quiet,

As Uncle Jerry’s song became slow.

I watched, as two embers rose,

Dancing in synchronization

With one another.

They were magnificent.

Spinning, hovering with each other.

These ballerinas were in love.

Delicate, elegant movements,

Brought them closer and closer,

Until they finally embraced:

Glowing brighter

Than they ever did alone.

My mouth gaped, in awe,

As the dancers’ glow

Gradually faded,

And the curtain call of darkness

Signaled the end of the spectacle.

With a weak smile,

And heavy eyes,

I too became like the dancers,

And gave in to the night.


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