Beyond The Shadows Of Summer is the story of fourteen year-old James Sayer and his struggle to believe in himself a year after his brother's death. Working his first job, at the Illinois State Fair in the summer of 1955, James is torn between fond memories and feelings of sadness and guilt. Magical experiences with his zany friends, his first love, and a maniacal bully, will act as roadblocks on James' road to emotional destruction. But will they be enough to revive the passion and hope that James once had or will he slip further into the shadows of summer?
I loved to draw.
Cartoons, comics, scenery. You name it, I’d draw it. And I was damn good too!
Mrs. Stephenson, my art teacher, was so impressed with my talent that she wanted me to enter some of my sketches into a local drawing contest. I was truly considering the idea until August 5th, 1954 at 1:35 pm. That’s when my kid brother died.
I can remember the events of that day all too well. I was shaking, but not by choice. Brand had a solid grip on my pajamas as he jarred my body back and forth, up and down. He was attempting to wake me up and get me out of bed. I opened my eyes and squinted through my hand at the sun’s rays that had worked their way through our half-opened window.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“It’s time for ball,” he said. He disappeared to the closet for a moment and returned with my glove in his hands. He flung it towards my stomach but I crunched up in time to prevent the blow.
“You’re gonna get it,” I said to him.
“You’ve been saying that for…forever,” he replied, wearing a smile.
“Yeah, but this time I might mean it,” I said, unable to keep my own smile in.
After getting dressed, I dashed down the stairs skipping four or five at a time. It was amazing that the bat, ball, glove, sketch pad, and pencil I was cradling didn’t fall from my arms. Brand was already at the front door waiting for me. His sketchpad and pencil were tightly tucked under his right arm and his glove was, as it always was, on his hand. I swear that some nights he slept with a glove on one hand and a pencil clutched in the other.
“We’re goin’ to the ball field mom,” I yelled back up the stairs.
She quickly replied, “James, look after your brother and take some soda pop change with you.” I grabbed twenty-five cents from the cookie jar on the kitchen counter and Brand and I headed out the door.
“Look after your brother” echoed in my mind. A phrase I must have heard a thousand times and something I didn’t need to be told. I always watched over him like a hawk. I had to; his safety, security, and happiness were my life.
Brand was small for his age and somewhat frail due to the rare blood disease he had since birth. What he didn’t have in physical size, however, he made up for in heart and courage. He knew, as we all did, that he wouldn’t live to see his 20th birthday. The amazing thing was Brand never complained, or cried about his disease. He never brought it up and I was just fine with that.