River Rafting

The afternoon thunderstorms remind me of the days playing in the gutters. We each picked what we thought would be the best boat from the mulch beneath the lilac bush in front of my yard. We’d carefully inspect the bark as though we had decades of naval architecture training. In reality, we each had had our own theories: Mine was that the flattest, smoothest one with a little breadth sailed the best.

A few small peebles in the gutter became rapids of immense scale. I held my breath and clenched my hands as seconds became moments; I hoped my little craft could navigate the siren call of the rocks that would surely drag my ship down and wreck my chances of winning the race.

It never seemed odd that the first one into the storm drain, lost forever, was declared the winner. We played together whenever sprinklers, car washes, or rain showers created a new torrent to captain.

We played together for a few more years, racing our mega-yachts or Mississippi River rafts or cigarette boats down uncharted rivers.

I remember the summer I turned eight, and as a storm drenched our neighborhood I tried to gather the crew together for another voyage down the mighty Amazon or Nile or some other uncharted river that would test our metal.

“That’s for little babies,” they said with a sneer on their faces. “We don’t do that anymore.”

I slunk away.

Sitting beneath my lilac along I could see the boys in the window next door pointing and laughing. I was left alone, dejected, and languishing with my child-like, weak notions and ideas.I flicked at the bark for a while, letting the rain drip down my face, arms and hands, and then wandered back inside.

It is raining outside and my boy sits planted in front of the television with a few friends.

I know that childhood is fleeting so I invited them outside for a race.

Written for the Trifecta (weak, 3rd definition) and Studio 30+ (fleeting) challenges
Word count: 321
As always I am open to all harsh, brutal or not criticism.


13 thoughts on “River Rafting

  1. This is a wonderful piece, but your use of the word “weak” doesn’t fit Trifecta guidelines, I’m afraid! We ask that the word be used “as is” without any modification of tense or the addition of hyphens, and that it’s only the third definition used. Maybe you could change it?
    This is still a great piece even if you’re unable to change it. Thank you for linking up, and come back for more challenges!

  2. Oh, this is lovely. It calls back my own memories of making fairy boats and sailing them down the ditches that ran alongside our house. So many happy hours! And, oh, the heartbreak of childhood games coming to a crashing end as our friends outgrow them before we do. Beautifully done.

  3. This is the kind of story upon which (I am sure) they created the movie “Stand by Me”. Of course, it goes without saying, that I loved that movie! The writer reminiscing of his childhood, and looking at his boys today. This was brilliantly written, thanks for sharing it and linking up with S30+

  4. Oh man, that brought up a lot in me. I was reminded of the beginning of IT when the boy was racing his boat and then got pulled into the gutter, but then things changed, became nostalgic, and by the end I was feeling guilty that on a beautiful summer day, my daughter and I are in the house, me writing and blogging, she’s cleaning her room and coming out every once in a while to “check on me” and we should be out… doing anything. Le sigh.

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