One lit match and a flood of memories come back, borne on the smell of sulfur.
My grandparents house. I lived there for nearly two years. This is embarassing- lighting a match in the bathroom was considered polite when finished with business. Why were 7 year old kids trusted with matches in a house?
Perhaps because I was entrusted with burning household trash from age six, and knew what matches could do.
From there I smell sweet hay, leather tack and horses and the pine needles that thatched the roof of our fort. I smell wild strawberries, bland coffee loaded with sugar and milk, my grandmother's treat to us. I smell biscuits, buttermilk, raw oats, greens and black-eyed peas. I smell water cress and trout. I smell those trout frying in corn meal and bacon grease, next to another cast iron skillet filled with peeled and sliced potatoes, all blended with the tannic aroma of a cherry tree. I smell the pleasant warmth of my grandfather, a kindly man who always took an interest in us, and always tried to instill in us his love of all things wild.
I smell blood and pain. I smell fear, fear of spiders in the dark, and fear of bears. I smell the fears of four small children, left to fend for themselves, looking after each other as their world dissolves. I smell the terror of being uprooted, the bland acceptance of a new "mom", and the realization that life would never be perfect. I remember my brother's courage. I remember my sister being driven away, until she was a memory, someone I used to know.
I remember my grandparents always being there, steady, loving, stolid working-class people who had carved out a spare but comfortable retirement. It was my grandfather's dream retirement, with two miles of exclusive access to a dream stream. That land is a golf course now. I trespass on a regular basis. I trespass to commune with my grandfather, whose ashes have been placed there, right where the brook trout spawn. I trespass to remember my grandmother who walked these now green acres, extending her life and happiness through exercise. I trespass because it was my home.
One lit match.