Outside the hot, wet air slapped him in the face and all the summers growing up there in the Georgia mountains came to him at once—days so long they seemed like they would never end, the smell of honeysuckle and freshly cut grass in the air, the rise and fall of the cicadas singing their noisy chorus.
He was a five-year-old boy, sitting in a church with no air-conditioning, sandwiched between his mother and his Aunt Martha. The preacher droned on and on while the itchy starched collar of his only dress shirt nearly drove him crazy.
He was ten, listening to the rain pound on the roof and the wind rattle the window, looking out from underneath the covers every time the lightning lit up his room, and counting the seconds until the peals of thunder shook the whole house.
He was a teenager, sharing his first kiss with Jenny Applebee down by the creek at the edge of the property, the two of them secluded by the hanging branches of an old willow and surrounded by glowing fireflies.
—From “Mr. Samuel”
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