Spring Fever by devra

You know, when I was a kid, the terminology 'spring fever' meant that ice skates were hung on the hook in the garage, hockey sticks were traded in for baseball bats, and bicycles were the desired mode of transportation. The streets were filled with the jeers and laughter of neighborhood kids, and no self-respecting child under the age of twelve had to be inside until the street lights came on. As children, we believed those were the days.

As a teenager, 'spring fever' became synonymous with testosterone. Driving a fast, souped-up car was a male's way of strutting his stuff. Bicycles with banana seats gathered dust in the garage as our preference now leaned towards wide tires, dual exhaust, air shocks, and the sound of racing of engines on deserted roads during spring nights. Even now, more years later than I care to admit, when the sun is dipping just below the horizon and the breeze is just right, I swear I can smell the odor of revving engines.

Along with the cars, spring brought out the girls who strutted their stuff to attract teenage boys. Straight hair, tight jeans, girls who allowed a hormonally challenged teenage boy to touch their pert breasts in the back seat of a car are among my fondest memories of those warm, spring nights. Still-illegal beers made me brasher than usual, but there must have been a guardian angel sitting on my shoulder, who allowed me to emerge from those wondrous days of discovery, alive and basically unscathed. Damn, those were the days.

The military soon hijacked many of the following spring days away from me. Spring was spent in areas of the world that were ignorant of young boys, baseball bats and bicycles, teenage girls and fast cars.

One year, my leave coincided with spring and expectantly, I sat on the porch and waited for the baseball games of my childhood. Disappointed, I borrowed my father's car to search for the pursuits of my teenage years. Drinking now legal beers, I was shocked to realize I couldn't come home again to the spring of my youth, and at that moment, I hated the military for what it had stolen from me. Never again did I return home during the springtime.

I met Sara during the frigid winter months and suddenly spring became a state of mind as opposed to a date on the calendar. It didn't matter that we were bundled in hats and gloves and scarves, because when I was with her, I could again envision twilight baseball games and souped-up cars.

Springtime permanently entered my life the day Charlie was born. Laughter resided in our hearts and our homes as time progressed, Wiffle balls and plastic bats gave way to Little League Games, and bicycles with training wheels progressed to two wheelers.

Then I was a POW, and spring became a dream that could only inhabit my heart and my mind when I envisioned Sara and Charlie at home. There wasn't any evidence of the promise of spring where I was, in the land that knew nothing of missed Little League games, Sunday bicycle rides or birthday parties for growing boys.

It took spring a while to reenter my life after I returned to my family. But little by little, warm nights filled with barbecues and children's laughter and my own wife back in my arms crept in to fill the void. I thought those were the days of perfection.

A single gun shot robbed me of spring. I buried the meaning of spring and all it ever meant to me the day that Charlie was laid to rest. The moment his coffin was put in the ground, spring no longer existed on my calendar.

I can now remember those spring days of Charlie and Sara with warmth and laughter. The hurt will never be completely banished, but it has become duller with time. The days of my childhood and my teenage years can evoke a grin and I feel no need to search for them, nor do I desire to recapture them. I am finally content.

I examine the source of my contentment as he sits on the lounge next to me, head bent back, watching the stars appear in a clear springtime night sky. As I hear the neighborhood parents begin to call their children in for the night, I reach for his hand and squeeze his warm fingers. Daniel mutters some inane comment about fast cars as the familiar sound of a car with dual exhaust squeals around the corner of our block.

"You should talk," I tease, thinking of his Thunderbird parked in the driveway. He smiles at me but his eyes speak of a childhood lacking spring days. He tugs our conjoined hands to his chest when the laughter of teenagers walking past the house floats up to my roof, and finally the smile he is giving me reaches his eyes.

These are the days of spring I draw on now when things get dismal. Being with Daniel are the days of perfection, the days of my childhood, teenage years, Little League games, laughter, all rolled into one. He is the true meaning of spring.

The End!

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