He was dragging a Crepe Myrtle branch taller than himself up to the sidewalk. The branch was void of any foliage, smooth, thick, and hard, with a five-way fork at the top. Setting the branch upright with the fork up, he reached his little hand in to extract a much smaller branch trapped inside.
I was standing unnoticed about 10 feet away, weed-eater motionless as I watched him at his task. He was so absorbed in his play, that I couldn’t help but observe. It was a rare and magical opportunity to watch my youngest child play alone and unaware of my watching. He shortly succeeded in wrenching the branch free. I could tell by his face that the stick was already forgotten as he prepared to toss it over his shoulder.
Suddenly, he stopped. He took another look at the stick and a small smile formed on my lips. The wheels in his mind were beginning to turn as he studied it carefully. I thought I knew what was coming next and I settled in to see it play out.
The stick was maybe a foot long and curved down sharply at an almost ninety degree angle near one end. It looked roughly like an old pistol you might see in a pirate movie. Only, he was holding it with the long barrel traveling back up his arm, as riot police might hold their batons when attempting to break up a crowd.
He turned his arm to and fro, looking at the stick from different angles, the Crepe Myrtle branch temporarily forgotten. He loosened his grip so the stick could swing around and point out from his hand. He paused, stick pointed down and forward as he considered. Slowly, he raised the stick slightly in the air, still with a look of consideration on his face. When the stick was sufficiently raised, still keeping a close eye on the stick, his lips puckered slightly.
“Pe-you! Pe-you!” he said quietly, jerking the end up slightly with each sound. Then he nodded faintly, as if confirming its worth as a toy gun, before dropping it to return to the larger branch. Apparently, warfare was not on the make-believe agenda that day.
He looked up then and saw me watching. He smiled shyly and swung the tall branch between us, attempting to determine its possible use. The spell broken, I turned back to my task and let him return to his play, a warm feeling in my chest.