Midsummer in a town outside of Nurnberg, the sun golden and warm, so bright I squint through my eyelashes, a slight breeze tickling my skin. My friend beside me, showing me a blackberry bush, reaching in and pulling out a berry and eating it. I reach in, too, eat a berry. It’s cool from the interior shadows, and sweet.
First lesson of its kind: where lie sweet things, pain lies, too. I reach in for another berry and feel a quick, burning sting. I jerk my hand back, pull out the stinger from my already pulsing, swollen fingertip. The bee died, I think at some point, either right then or on the short walk to the small apartment my family lived in — just my mom, younger sister and me then; my dad was at war in Operation Desert Storm, and my brother wasn’t born yet.
Back at home, my mom is frantic.
“Where have you been? I called the police because I couldn’t find you.”
I don’t remember what I said or did, but I remember thinking, “I don’t think I was gone that long.”
I wonder now how long I was gone. It felt like a few minutes but may have been an hour. Time is strange in childhood, stranger in memory.