The Ramp Maker

I am rounded up by the people who
skate in the empty lot on the
corner of my street, and they
say they need me to help carry
something heavy. I believe their
need is genuine, so I follow the posse
of scuffed helmets and hand me down
t-shirts to a crummy plot of dirt
at the end of the neighborhood.

The small nature of our town made
it a short walk and when we got
there two more skaters approached us.
They lead me to a pile of lumber that
was mostly old particle board and
splintered two by fours, but they
didn’t see it like I did.
To them that pile was something
to be harnessed for height and
distance. It was a symbol of their
potential for the sky.

I helped them drag the large planks
back over to one of their garages.
My hands became red from the
rough unsanded edges we let dig
into our palms. I learned none of
their names because none of them were
ever said, and they didn’t make me
feel like I needed to ask.
I stood apart from the group and
watched closely as they sorted the
wood by size and type of material.

One of the younger skaters rolled away
when they finally had it all categorized
and I watched her skate over
to the oldest house on the street,
and walk inside like she lived there.
She was gone for a while, but she left
the door wide open. Which
made the front of the house look
like a face with a dropped jaw.

When she finally re-emerged, there was an
old man with her wearing shorts and an
unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. His hair
and beard was short, and a fading dark
brown. I did not recognize him from anyone I saw around the subdivision, and I
suspected this was by design. As he got
closer I could see he had a tool belt,
that contained a diverse roster of instruments.
He walked right passed me as he entered the garage, and when his feet were just
inches from the haul he knelt
like he was arriving at an altar.

He studied the sorted boards thoroughly,
and when he finished, he looked at
the eager skaters and nodded.
At the very instant of this acknowledgement
they all scattered like mice in the dark,
eventually flowing back into their empty lot. I was the only one who stayed behind
and watched as the first cut was made
sending the salvage on a collision course with destiny, and all the rest to their chance.

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