Heat of The Southern Wild

Heat of The Southern Wild

A Story by Sage

In spirit of the holiday season, this is a short autobiographical narrative I wrote last year as a Sophomore. My English teacher said it was her favorite one. :) Any reviews/feedback is appreciated!


12/6/12: Heat of The Southern Wild

I recalled spending countless hours in the heavy humidity of the day sitting in a subtle afternoon shade, reading Little House on the Prairie aloud. I remembered the joyous mornings I’d go to school chock-full of ideas for show-and-tell, the days Anna and I sent aimless messages in a bottle down the creek. Were all those times to be gone? The last day I saw her, we had searched and searched for the imaginary fairies that hid in the tall, dry grass on the other side of the schoolyard. I would miss them dearly. But Anna said they would come find me in California.

So we were not to live in our small, outdated apartment anymore. We would no longer walk to the Hot Bagel Shop every Sunday, or sing patriotic songs at the top of our lungs when the summer thunderstorms erupted like volcanoes in our ears. 

“It hardly ever storms in California.” My mother had said, smiling.

“No more mid-summer flooding!” My father added with a pat on my back. I suppose I should have been relatively happy to hear the news, but I wasn’t. Living thirty minutes away from Disney Land would be nothing compared to living in the Lone Star State; where summer starts in April, where the accents are even sweeter than the tea, where porches are wide and words are long and drawn out. Where everyone was family.

  California was such a foreign word to me. I thought of salty waves crashing on blazing hot sand, of luscious palm trees and long, colorful surfboards. It was a place I thought average people like us only went on vacation, certainly not to live. From the way my parents described it, you would think California was some kind of dreamland.

And for a long while, I believed them.

It wasn’t the unfamiliarity we would face that scared me the most, nor the uncertainty. It was the possibility of forgetting, of somehow moving on, and looking back to see nothing. That was the fear that consumed my young mind.

I had written to Santa asking for snow that year. I knew it was unlikely--no, it was impossible. But the possibility of something so impossible was just too great to ignore; I wanted it more than anything.  

Christmas morning came before I could process all that had happened. I had sworn up and down that I’d stay up all night, so that I might finally catch a glimpse of the white beard and red suit that occupied much of my imagination. But, like every Christmas, my determination was interrupted when sugar plums crept into my head, and I drifted off into a deep slumber. I felt the warmth of my brother’s small body beside me when I woke up on Christmas Day, the fresh smell of pine filling the room. I was about to ease myself up when I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I called to my parents, forcing them to their feet and dragging them to the window.

“What’s that?”

“Is it rain?” my mother turned to my father.

“No,” He yawned. “Must be dust, or something.”

            The next thing I knew, we were outside. It wasn’t too cold. It wasn’t too hot. Rubbing my eyes, I looked up to get a better view of what was descending.  

            “Is that,” my mother started. No, no it couldn’t be. It couldn’t be what I had hoped and prayed it was. I cupped my hands, hoping to catch some of the floating specks and prove to myself once and for all that miracles like these did not exist. I expected to feel little smithereens of dust fall into my hands. Instead, small, white chunks melted into the palms of my hands.

            My chest tightened and the breath was knocked out me. When I tried to inhale, all that would come out was a hissing noise from between my teeth. It was like a bolt of lightening had struck me, traveling up my spine and sending shivers back down. It couldn’t have been more than 60-some-degrees outside, but I was suddenly freezing. I felt the many long-lost winters come back to me, like ghosts to their graves. I felt sticky maple sap between my fingers once again, and the keen taste of cinnamon on my tongue. I recognized the fact that I had not forgotten; that Montreal was still very much with me, and that I had brought it here.

            It was then I realized what “home” really means. It isn’t the roof over our heads, or the fence around our yard. It isn’t the side of the bed we wake up on, nor the mirror we look into. It’s what we see in the mirror; what we hold in our minds as we look at our reflection. “Home” was the feeling I’d get when I came home to the smell of baking bread. “Home” was the warm, spreading ache I’d feel when I laughed too hard; the smile my parents would give me when I did well in school. It was the sound of opera music from my grandfather’s basement, and the weight of his hands on my small shoulders. “Home” was what I saw in the pink, wrinkled face of my brother when he was born. It was what Cinderella felt when her glass slipper fit perfectly; the reason Peter Pan couldn’t bring himself to leave Neverland.

So I stood in the middle of the street, in awe, in shock; in marvel; filled with an overwhelming astonishment, a childish glee.

“It’s snowing,” I whispered. “It’s snowing!” I began to shout. “It’s snowing! Everyone! It’s snowing!”

As I saw our neighbors rush to their windows and come outside, I finally understood that “home” isn’t about where you are in the world, but what you bring to it.

It snowed every year after that. Not much, of course, but significant enough to make the news. Every year, I remember; and every year, whether it is true or not, I like to think that I brought snow to Houston.

And so thanks to that last Christmas, I wasn’t afraid of the unknown that waited for us out West. By the time we were on the plane, I had looked out the window into the sky, where I knew the southern haze would eventually drift off once the sun rose again.

© 2013 Sage

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Added on December 18, 2013
Last Updated on December 18, 2013
Tags: autobiographical narrative, short story, story, short, brief, Texas, Montreal, The South, moving, childhood, Christmas, snow, dust, snowflakes, stories about hardship



San Francisco, CA

I am 17 years young; a Junior in high school in San Francisco, CA. I was born in Montreal, and have since the age of four been living elsewhere in the U.S. I would love to someday be a writer and/or a.. more..

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