It was November, and the last of the arizona sun blankets had dried up and littered the ground with their husks. I was heading out into the country on a bleak day, the kind of day where the sun shines warm but the dust clouds settle cold on your skin. I was riding down the road on my bike, a 1974 Schwinn. It had been my father’s when he was a kid, and he told me how Kenneth Johnson tried to steal it three times when they were both in the seventh grade at Hillcrest Middle school but he caught Kenneth red-handed and didn’t even deck him out. My father was one of those real upstanding folks. He didn’t believe much in violence.
It were these thoughts–little stories he used to tell me, that made me miss him most. I never was closest to him–that was my older brother Jessie– but some days I really felt the loss. My mother says that everyone is appreciated more after death. I guess she’s right.
The road ahead of me was narrowing, and turning to dirt. It was here that most people turned around, assuming they had reached a dead end. My bike wheel caught in a ridge and I swerved to correct it. I shook off the little flurry of adrenaline. Finally I reached the end of the road. I got off my bike and leaned it against an old palo verde, whose leaves were a similar shade to the dirt beneath my feet. Everything here is rust.
I walked further, sending up puffs of dust, little explosions beneath my feet. I knelt down beside a tiny cluster of sun blankets. The flowers were clinging to their last breath of life before winter. They were tiny, spunky little halos of sunshine amidst the miles of red earth. I picked two flowers. One for me, and one for my father. I tucked them carefully into the pockets of my Levis, and got back on my bike. I rode home, thinking of my father.