we dug holes in the cold dirt, scooping small caves for our small superheroes
who rested there after battles with their slightly-larger adversaries.
the dirt was sandy, packed after infrequent rains, but crumbly,
powdery, and laced dun-red with iron oxides. the caves could easily collapse.

we played there every day, marking our caves with tumbleweed twigs or with pebbles,
or with the memory of a pattern of stones in the back wall—
or for my newest cave, almost the best, by stuffing it full with my wadded-up
brilliant red superman cape, surviving item of that year’s trick-or-treat.
a corner of the cape i left poking through an air-hole in the roof of the fragile superhero’s hide-out. my best friend, digging his cave beside mine,
said it was about time i finally took that stupid cape off.

the next day my cape was gone, my cave destroyed. my best friend’s cave
had been badly damaged. it looked as though godzilla had passed rampaging through.
the authorities took our report, but said there was really nothing they could do.
we felt the feelings of betrayal one will feel when fantasy battles with reality
and reality wins. a few minutes later we went to play ball.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

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