We’re Running Through the Sprinklers Again

by Michaela Chairez

Honorable Mention – Flash 405, April 2024: “Home”


We’re running through the sprinklers saying we should run through the sprinklers again. Saying we’re best friends forever. Even though we’re five, we meant it when we said we’re best friends forever. Though we never did run through the sprinklers again. Even though we meant it, by middle school, we weren’t at our best. We weren’t even friends. And neither of us could understand the meaning of forever.

The last few times I spoke with you, your father died. He hung himself in a jail cell. It felt like yesterday he said he would take us to Raging Waters. He instead took us to a nearby waterfall at the end of an untrodden trail. Somewhere there’s a video of him jumping off the highest rock into the steep water. We were all laughing happy on our way home. We couldn’t wait to go back there again. It wasn’t until the last few times I spoke with you I realized we wouldn’t go back there again. It wasn’t until much later I found out he was on trial for murder of a woman he was seeing.

By high school, my mother told me she really wanted to adopt you. I forgot how you would call my mom, mom, and my dad, dad. I forgot how you stayed over most days after school to stay overnight. You sat with the five of us for dinner, eating the millionth way my mother cooked chicken. You never did want to go home. My mother eventually asked your grandma to adopt you. Instead, your grandma moved you to a different city.

By college, I found myself forgetting about you. Until my mother saw you at a three-way thrift store. She hardly recognized you. I imagine we too would hardly recognize each other. Still, neither of us have reached out. I understand we’re not five anymore, and that time and distance can make memories a best friend for what can last forever.

For what can make us run through the sprinklers again. Make us rollerblade with Rollerblades too big for our feet, to collect roly-polies, then climb trees. We’d jump off the lowest branch, lie on our backs, tuck in our arms at our sides, then roll down that one big grassy hill like two broken branches of the same tree. We’d itch like crazy. Though we’d be laughing happy. Saying, you’re my best friend. Saying, let’s do this tomorrow again.



Judge’s Comments:
I love this rendering of the family we find and have only for a time, the ones who enter our lives and change them completely, then leave just as swiftly as they came.

Michaela Chairez is a Latina writer from the Inland Empire. She holds an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. Her work can be found in California Quarterly, Transfer, The Ana, and The Acentos Review.

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Photo by Elena Rabkina