A young boy's life changes one summer.
My Cousin’s Shadow Disappeared
I remember the summer of 1953. Most of my 62 summers have become a vague memory, eroded away by time. The summer I turned ten years old was different, in a bad way.
The summer of 1953 began with happy times. I spent sunny days playing “Cowboys and Indians” in my backyard with the neighborhood kids and my cousins. Probably the only time Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger and Superman chased the bad guys together was when we played the parts. They were our heroes back then. Sometimes I imagined I was Tonto and would run around the yard riding my imaginary pinto. I saved Roy and the Ranger more then once that way.
Families that could afford one, watched television after supper. They would all gather around, dragging chairs from every room in the house and watch Red Skelton on NBC. Occasionally the old couple that lived across the alley from my house would invite me in to watch their television. I was so fascinated with the black and white picture I would sit and watch everything. Like everyone else, I laughed at Mr. Skelton.
I learned many things from watching television….
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for passing secrets to the Soviet Union. Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide reached the summit of Mount Everest. Test pilot Chuck Yeager made the record books flying the X-1 Rocket Plane.
I learned many things, but that’s not why I remember the summer of 1953.
My cousin Gregory turned ten that summer too. Running through the yard pretending he was Superman was what he did best. He always ran faster and jumped higher than anyone else.
After the 4th of July my Aunt Hattie, Gregory’s mom, stopped by the house. I could hear my mother and aunt talking in the kitchen and knew something bad had happened. I stood silent in the doorway and listened.
My Aunt Hattie’s words echoed across the kitchen, “Gregory is in the hospital.”
Aunt Hattie started crying and then my mother, too. I wondered if I should cry, but I didn’t understand all that was being said. They used words I had never heard before. I tried my best to remember if I had heard them on television. I couldn’t remember.
Several weeks later they brought my cousin home. Aunt Hattie made a bed for him in their living room next to a window. If he tried real hard, he could push himself up on his elbows, look out across the yard and watch his friends playing.
Sometimes I would stop by and visit. I always brought along my newest comic books for Gregory to read. We would read comics, sometimes stopping to look out the window; both wishing he could go outside and play “Cowboys and Indians.”
Gregory had infantile paralysis. My mother called it polio. Heavy iron braces were strapped to my cousin’s legs. He would never run in the summer sunshine again.
Prompt: “Summer” 500 words or less