Fresh Air by Mike DiChristina

Standing in the dark morning cool of the front hall. Summer. Everybody snoozing – Ma and my little bros still crashed. Garbage truck grinds down on the street five floors below.

Tap tap.

I open the door. Ricky from 12G, a knapsack on his back, hands in his pockets.

“Yo,” Ricky says. He blows a purple bubble.

I ram a handful of Cheerios into my mouth. I put my Yankee cap on crooked. My old man’s army bag slung over one shoulder, stenciled with his name my name all my eleven years. Pat my back pocket make sure I got my camp papers.

I follow Ricky down the stairwell, outside onto 157th Street. We get an egg sandwich. Ricky rips it in half and we eat it on the A train down to the Port Authority.

“Gate C5,” says Ricky.

We take the escalators up, standing close, our shoulders touch. At the gate, a table with a sign for the camp, boxes of donuts. Lady with a clipboard. A couple kids in plastic chairs.

“You boys Fresh Air?” the lady says.

I take a chocolate glazed.

“Have a donut,” she says.

Me and Ricky with fifty boys on the bus. AC. Seats soft, clean. Tinted windows. The bus spirals down the concrete ramp, into the Lincoln Tunnel.


Tunnel’s tiled walls stained brown. Lights turn everybody green.

At the end of the tunnel, we whoop.

Ricky grabs my hand and squeezes it tight as we rumble into the sun.


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Filed under Mike DiChristina

8 responses to “Fresh Air by Mike DiChristina

  1. I really enjoyed your take on the theme.

  2. The staccato sentence structure does indeed make this a plot we hold our breath through–and celebrate with the boys at the end. Well done.

  3. len kuntz

    i liked the nostalgic feel and was very visual, the tunnel scene especially.

  4. ah, sweet summer freedom. The sensory details are sketched perfectly, the garbage truck setting that feeling of claustrophobia…impersonal, industrial, loud, smelly, in-your-face kinda New York way, such an effective catalog of urban smells, even that sour purgatory of bus AC and then…Fresh Air.

  5. loved this, the closeness of the city bearing down, and then the freedom of summer and the ‘country’ fresh air. peace…

  6. John Riley

    Great imagery and strong, tight writing. Well done.

  7. Leah

    This is the most joyful story I’ve read in quite a while. Well done!

  8. Pingback: Week #46 – Another world | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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