A Map Home (S. R. Schulz)

We hike to the top of the mountain. My Son connects the land and sky. He presses his palms into the grass until they’re imprinted. He turns them up to me. Rivulets dance across his life and fate lines. He points to the clouds. It’s a map, he says. If you’re ever lost, follow it to the sky and you’ll be home. 

We drive past the forest. See the sun through the trees? I ask. It’s beautiful. The shadows, he says. They’re tattoos. I look between the trees and the sun filtering through.  Deeper in, the shadows feel permanent. Tattoos, I think. The sun can’t wash them away.  

We travel across the sound and the wind whips at his face. It scares him and he cries. He tells me a snowstorm tried to take away his breath. The wind across the sound is free and unhindered. He feels hunted—like a deer in a clearing with wolves all around. I tell him the wind can’t hurt him. I let him know that no one will take his breath. But I know. There’s only so much I can do. 

We lay on the trampoline together, suspended in summer. He shows me the moon each morning. We gather walnuts like gold bars and stack them in jars. The sprinkler is his portal to happiness. The grass licks his bare feet as he sprints from one edge of the yard to the other. 

We gather rocks and driftwood. We make a house for ourselves. We turn crab shells with sticks. He wades out in the saltwater till his jeans are wet and stiff. The tide turns waves. The sun turns days. He grows up and I grow old. I don’t know how many summers are left, but we have this one.  


S. R. Schulz is a writer, doctor, father and sometimes tweeter. He’s been published in McSweeney’s, Entropy, Bull, Pidgeonholes, Maudlin House, and others. You can find his work at www.srschulzwriting.com


image: Alan Tenhoeve