|Image credit: Jordan Busson via Wikimedia Commons|
I'm really alive! he thought. I never knew before, or if I did I don't remember!
He yelled it loud but silent, a dozen times! Think of it, think of it! Twelve years old and only now! Now discovering this rare timepiece, this clock gold bright and guaranteed to run threescore and ten, left under a tree and found while wrestling.
"Doug, you okay?"
Douglas yelled, grabbed Tom, and rolled.
"Doug, you're crazy!"
They spilled downhill, the sun in their mouths, in their eyes like shattered lemon glass, gasping like trout thrown out on a bank, laughing till they cried.
"Doug, you're not mad?"
"No, no, no, no, no!"
Douglas, eyes shut, saw spotted leopards pad in the dark.
"Tom!" Then quieter. "Tom... does everyone in the world... know he's alive?"
"Sure. Heck, yes!"
The leopards trotted soundlessly off through darker lands where eyeballs could not turn to follow.
"I hope they do," whispered Douglas. "Oh, I sure hope they know."
Douglas opened his eyes. Dad was standing high above him there in the green-leaved sky, laughing, hands on hips. Their eyes met. Douglas quickened. Dad knows, he thought. It was all planned. He brought us here on purpose, so this could happen to me! He's in on it, he knows it all. And know he knows that I know.
A hand came down and seized him through the air. Swayed on his feet with Tom and Dad, still bruised and rumpled, puzzled and awed, Douglas held his strange-boned elbows tenderly and licked the fine cut lip with satisfaction. Then he looked at Dad and Tom.
"I'll carry all the pails," he said. "This once, let me haul everything."
They handed over the pails with quizzical smiles.
He stood swaying slightly, the forest collected, full-weighted and heavy with syrup, clenched hard in his down-slung hands. I want to feel all there is to feel, he thought. Let me feel tired, now, let me feel tired. I mustn't forget, I'm alive, I know I'm alive, I mustn't forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that.
-- Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)