From the Ashes
by Beth Cato
"I don't like to come here." Grace's words echoed against the gray shells of brick and stucco.
"I don't really, either," said Ryan, his voice soft and husky all at once. Their boots crunched through ash as if it were snow.
I trailed them by about half a block, anxiety increasing with each step. The kids shouldn't be here in our old neighborhood, but that wasn't what worried me. I'd had the talk with Grace again just a few weeks back. I wasn't stupid. I saw how she and Ryan had started looking at each either. It was a new stage for them, one we adults had joked about since their first mock wedding at age six. We had shared a back fence with the Luises, back before.
Grace and Ryan had only grown closer over the past two years. Not like there were many other kids their age in camp.
The footsteps stopped. "How many times do you think we walked down this street?" Grace asked.
"I don't know. A lot. The 7-11 was right there."
"It's almost Slurpee season." Their steps continued.
That had been our summer break tradition. We'd stop off a few times a week on the way back from the YMCA pool. Grace and Ryan would sit in the back of the van, giggling and slurping their drinks, their lips and tongues dyed cherry-red like psychotic clowns. They'd talk about their kids' club at the library and how much zits sucked and that homework was so unfair.
Now they checked dosimeters and crop yields.