It was weeks past the winter solstice and in our place the winter was, or should have been, still in full force. February was usually a month of ice, mud and snow and days spent locked indoors. But the solstice was long past, weeks past, and in the old hallways of the school the early light came pouring through the casement windows and painted the old walls bright. And we hungered for something then. For release; for freedom; for a taste of the sun. For God, but we didn’t know it.
On this day the winds that prevailed blew to the north and we were blessed, for that moment, with a noon sky that came from Tennessee or Carolina and might have been right out of the month of May. David Hansen had his father’s car and we saw it through the window on the school lot and we just nodded to each other and walked out of the place without a slip or a pass or as much as a fare thee well. We just walked out with no regard for consequences and into the car and glided into that fair afternoon taking one road after another all at speed and out of the town and out of the valley and up the river and then up creek and branch. We smoked and listened to the engine in that Olds and he told me about his trouble with his girl’s father and I told him of my own disappointments and we knew or felt at that moment that all our cares were light and momentary troubles and that our lives, when we got hold of them – when we learned to walk out on our own, would be as free and sunny as that very day.