The youth played with the stick in his hand. Poking the campfire in front of him while watching the flames dance in the evening air. It felt like it might rain, but these days one never knew. Weather came and went at the whim of those that played with it. It was best not to anticipate, but be prepared. He tossed another limb on the fire.
“Why are you doing that? You should be practicing and not using your hands for such a simple thing.”
Jason sat back on his log and turned to his younger sister. “Sometimes it’s nice to do something yourself. To have a feeling for what it was to pick something up and figure out how to make it work. Maybe you are too young to remember, but I do.”
“Oh, no, Jason, I remember. I also remember things we could have done if we had practiced more.” Susan looked at the fire and watched it grow under her gaze. She shivered and glanced at their younger brother sitting off by himself intent on watching some helpless creature in its own struggle for life.
“Susan, you cannot blame yourself. I certainly did not see it coming so I don’t know how you could have.” He shifted in his seat and focused on the child long enough to make sure he wasn’t forgetting to stay warm.
“Jason, we didn’t know she was sick. If we had known we might have kept Andy from trying to fix her. He just didn’t know enough.”
“I, know. Neither did we, really. But we couldn’t have known how Dad would react. I guess he’s always been uncomfortable with the change. Frank told me a lot of the parents, especially fathers, just can’t handle it. In his eyes Andy killed Mom. He wouldn’t listen when we told him Andy was trying to fix the cancer. He didn’t really believe she had it. I guess with all this other stuff going on she didn’t want to tell anyone. But Andy knew. He knew it hurt her and he wanted to fix it. He just didn’t understand all the things he needed to know.”
Susan sighed and willed another log on the fire. It was getting colder. Unseasonably so. But seasons were no longer things to trust. Not as those who were Andy’s age began to play with the world as if it were a large tinker toy or box of legos. “I still hope he’ll be okay.”
“I only knocked him out, Susan. I do know what I’m doing.”
“That’s why you wanted to touch the limb, isn’t it? You’re not really sure.”
Another visit to the world of Childhood’s End.