Hitting Walnuts

I'd hear them plunking on the barn's tin roof,whole bunches crashing down at once, and know he was out there, my younger brother, with his slingshot and bucket - and I'd leave my homework and walk over to the window, the one I filled, whose sill was on the floor, and watch him shoot into the trees. When the bucket brimmed with walnuts, he'd lug it over to the edge of the field, and hit them one by one with this Louisville Slugger, the husk exploding into green smithereens as the nut sailed out over the field's high grass. The bat turned green from so many homeruns. He'd stay out to the end, until darkness or supper called him in, whichever came last. Sometimes I envied him his freedom, the way he didn't care about schoolwork, but I stayed in my converted attic room where I'd found my own kind of freedom. Watching him was a pleasure once removed but still a pleasure; and now it's twice removed. But today, when I picked up a fallen walnut and inhaled the spicy smell of its green husk, I felt the joyful sting of the bat's crack, the exuberant explosion and the flight of memory arcing back into the past.

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