I stood, shifting from foot to foot, in the waiting crowd. My hand clutched the smaller hand of a red head. He swiveled his head back and forth, looking at the people.
"Can we go to the park?"
"Not yet, Kyle." I smiled down at my young cousin. "We're going to hear an amazing author speak."
He swung our arms and walked in a circle around me, twisting us together. "Kyle," I begged, "hold still and listen to this man. He's amazing."
Kyle obediently crouched beside me, poking at cracks in the sidewalk. Around us the crowd buzzed as a man walked on stage. I stood on my tip toes, trying to see, to get closer.
Ray Bradbury spoke about his typewriter, the importance of books and libraries. His voice sent chills down my spine. I'd read his words, walked in his mind, and now I was hearing him speak. And when he described being an author, writing every day, I felt my heart thud with understanding.
The first story of his I read was All Summer in a Day. I cried and hoped the children would remember the golden girl they locked in the closet. My heart sank when they didn't. For years, that story would stick with me, making me realize the ease and forgetfulness of children; the cruelty and unintentional damage wrought by jealousy.
By the time I opened Fahrenheit 451, I was hooked. I devoured every short story, every novel. And I fell in love with a genre that combined science fiction with a hard look at human nature.
And when I was 19, I heard him speak at the local library's dedication. I dragged my cousin to it, knowing he was too young to understand he was hearing a master artist speak, but hoping he'd someday remember.
And today, at 91, Ray Bradbury died.
I think, in my mind, I never thought he would. He was immortal. Perhaps, as I read his books again and again, he still is.
Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury.
7 hours ago