Late Summer Fruit
A sensory distillation of childhood. Prose and a plea.
Childhood is sweet for many, but not for all. Shortly after this beautiful memory of childhood, everything changed for me. At the end of this brief work of sensory prose, I plead for hope and help for children in need.
I remember being a child, wrestling on the grass in the front lawn on a molten July evening.
The sun is sinking, but it beats viciously in retreat. The air trembles as if in waves from an open furnace.
Eyes level with scorched-tip grass, I marvel as fireflies began to blink in … then out. One by one.
I leap to chase them, pouncing, collecting them in a margarine tub with slits cut in the translucent lid.
Brown grass and humidity assault the bare skin of my chest. I scratch, fighting fierce itching.
I sink to my knees, panting.
Mom calls us to the porch. “Come on kids! You too, Jamie. Let’s go.”
She has slices of ice-cold, sugary watermelon waiting for us on white paper plates.
I sit on a lawn chair in cut-off jeans, cooling my insides, spitting seeds into the grass, and watching the fireflies dance, mirroring the stars that are just winking in.
I sit there gazing for what seems like hours. I’m alert for shooting stars, dreaming about what manner of creature might live beyond the Milky Way.
I clutch the tub of glowing insects in my lap. I nibble the last bite of cool flesh off white rind, scatter the lightning bugs into the grass, and skip inside to sleep and dream.
No fruit of my childhood compares to that watermelon that night.
The above piece, which I originally wrote some years ago, is the distillation of a memory, sensory impressions of childhood and sweet security.
I think about it sometimes as I labor on decidedly less sweet projects.
While I grew up in a conservative Christian home and struggled with acceptance because of my sexual orientation, I never actually doubted the support of my family.
They were not affirming, but I never had to worry about being without a roof or without food to eat.
So many LGBTQ kids can’t say that.
Homelessness among queer adolescents is a crisis in the United States right now. Over 40% of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Family rejection is the leading cause.
In order to raise awareness, foster empathy, and distill some love, I’ve serialized a story that illustrates the plight of older LGBTQ adolescents who lack the support of family and friends, who find themselves on the street or under the control of adults who exploit them.
This issue is important to me, and I hope it can be for you too.
The characters in my stories are fictional, but everything I’m writing about has actually happened to real kids I’ve known, and is still happening all the time. Every day.
Won’t you please read and think about these issues, about these kids?