He walked alongside me, sneakers sneaking and spy eyes detecting the tiniest of insects buzzing in the grass. We carefully did not cross the dividing line between drab cement and microscopic jungle. We did not brush our toes against the denseness, overgrown with mini-giant cassava leaves, or forget to heed the “Sssssss” as a black mamba twirled down the trunk of an old mahogany. The dreadful taunted him. How could the scent of tiny, ripe mango rise from the ground all the way to our nostrils like fruit smoke?
“Mom, stop,” he barely whispered. His hand reached for mine, and when we touched, our flesh burned flameless, disintegrating to the wrists. Ashes drifted in slow motion, shedding like skinflakes onto the grass. We stood peering at the green below, not missing our hands. “Do you see them?”
Of course I saw the streak of cats — a tigress and her cub, prowling around the fallen ashes. “I’m bigger than they are,” my son’s voice trailed off. A car drove by as though nothing happened at all.
Author of the inspiring, Searched the World Over For Elie: An International Adoption Story, Sherilyn Olsen presents workshops for state government and is working towards her Master’s of Arts, English degree at Weber State University. She co-edits the blog at Segullah.org, where she also contributes and edits for the journal. Sherilyn writes essays and poetry, with pieces published in various magazines and journals. She lives in mountainous South Ogden, Utah with her husband and four children.