Indian Summer Against the rattle-clack background of Southshore trains I was twelve during Indian Summer come late in autumn as berries hung along the Louisville and Nashville right-of-way, dangled bright or dusky among the dying wild shrubs at the lakeside; I was twelve untouched, hurrying for the last fruit before winter off the lake, out of Canada, toward the vanished prairie of Indiana. Twelve years untouched, fast--full of corners--strong, I was quickly snapping old vines turned crisp that cover the sweetest fruit; I was twelve. And he looked soft like a young girl pretty in a Sunday dress with bright hair curling in the last summer winds along the lake and he came along the shrubs almost dancing with a basket full of ripened seed bulging against his slim thighs and when he stopped among the shrubs looking over his shoulders I saw his thin hand clasp gently the branch his long fingers agile and tipped with the sweet juice of the crushed vine. It was a shadow approaching soft as butterflies quick as honeybees come from nowhere to suck nectar from buds bright under noonday suns in Springtime in Indiana against the rattle-clack twelve-thirty Southshore express train into Chicago. I imagined myself that long train pushing in and out of city after city, spilling my insides onto platforms and, cooling awhile in the shade of the platforms, waiting with a sigh afterward, never asking, not knowing the name of this stranger or that who rode the long sleek snake of the train bright and quick in the broad daylight of midday sun. I was twelve then. And it was a minute divided into one moment then a second moment as I stood watching beside him breathing steadily and his teeth bit at his lower lip like a girl ready to speak though before her first word I reached out and kissed her while my left hand felt his spine soften while he slipped down slowly among the shrubs at the lakeshore Where the afternoon trains run in and out of Chicago on the Southside amid the sounds of hurried passing I was twelve and straining to hear the slow low lisp of the waves come late that Indian Summer in autumn before the long Canadian cold and lonely ice that shriveled the berries away and buried their seed out of sight along the south shore of the lake where honeybees and butterflies could be seen weaving slowly among the thorns and the briars and tracks at the lake and the faceless faces on the trains to Chicago saw only the sharp curve of the shore. I was a man. John Horvath, Jr.
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