Tag Archives: summer

In Over Her Head

underwater.jpgThey watched the house through heat vapor that rose up from the road and waited impatiently as the family got ready to leave for vacation. First the fifth wheel emerged from its long metal carport like a snake shedding its skin, and the wealthy family began loading coolers and supplies. All the markings of those folks being out of town for quite awhile.

Terrance and Larry watched from the tree line beside the Thompsons’ driveway, far enough away to not be seen, as sweat ran down their foreheads. The juvenile delinquents knew exactly when the neighbors drove away for their extended holiday, and the backyard swimming pool was no longer off limits to them. With temps well above 100, they’d sweltered the summer away and couldn’t wait to cool off in the decadent water.

Larry screamed, “It’s ours now!” The other two followed his lead and scrambled over the wooden fence behind him. Any splinters gained would soon be soothed in chlorinated coolness. The boys stripped down to jump in wearing their Jockey shorts, and Haley took swam in her tank top and undies.

She dove in the deep end and distanced herself from the boys as quickly as possible at the opposite side of the pool, kicked her thin legs up over the side, and lay back in the water with her rear end resting on the concrete side wall. That position left her ears submerged to muffle the noise of those idiots as they splashed and dunked each other. The liquid muted their sluicing around and brought sweet relief from both the barrage of heat and constant volume of nonsense. Their tussle became a far off sound, another thing she could pretend wasn’t happening.

Reclined like that, the world faded away. Haley stared at the clouds as they drifted across her line of sight. One billowy mass formed the shape of Italy, the heeled boot across the great ocean, which made her smile. She closed both eyes and the image stayed imprinted inside her lids. I wish I could go there, she thought.

Haley wanted to stay in the water, enveloped in the sense of security it gave her. No worry about lack of air conditioning at her house. No thoughts of whether her mom and dad would be fighting when she got home.

Poolside, the boys argued about their plans for later. Terrance warned that a prolonged stay might raise the attention of other nosy neighbors and possibly the cops. He cautioned, “We better not stay here too long. ‘Sides, we got that party to go to across town.”

“I don’t think it’s no ghetto party,” Larry replied. “They might even have some free beer.”

Terrance gave the concrete beside Haley’s legs a hard thwack with his flattened palm. “You listenin’ to us, girl? We gots to go.”

Her eyes popped open with a start, and her calves scraped across the pavement to splash back in the water. “Whydya do that? You made me hurt myself!”

“Oh, boo hoo,” he told her. “That ain’t all that’s gonna hurt if you don’t hurry up. We gotta get outta these wet clothes. Come on!”

Haley pushed back off the side of the pool to go under water again and let its briskness embrace her one last time.

Our Write Side writing prompt – thwack

photo: Piscina by Daniel Lobo

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Back-to-school Blues

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Bright magenta peonies with a tall sprig of ornamental grass sprouting from their center graced the corner of their neighbor’s lawn. Such a lush grouping never hinted a seasonal onslaught loomed so close in the distance. The assortment would dry and wither as autumn sucked away the nutrients supplying that color.

Cleve followed his big brother’s school bus all the way down the street as it passed the flora and left their neighborhood. He hated to see summer end and his older brother go back to school. His legs couldn’t pedal fast enough to keep up with the vehicle, as it turned the corner and accelerated down the block. Marvin turned to wave through the back window.

The kid watched the bus fade into the distance and began to lose his balance from the sobs that began to rack his slim shoulders, their freckles barely starting to fade. Cleve put a bare foot down on the pavement before he wrecked and tumbled to the street. A crash of the aluminum frame joined the sound of Cleve’s crying as the bike fell to the ground. He lost himself to sadness and sat down heavily. Still wearing his thin summer pajamas, he shuddered in the chilled morning air.

Recent memories flashed through his young mind as he longed to be back at the swimming pool playing Marco Polo. Lakeshore rocks under his bottom while his fished with his brother felt better than the smooth concrete beneath him now. Sweltering games at the baseball diamond where Marvin made a double play only a few weeks ago differed greatly from the cooler temperatures already descending each evening. It all ended so quickly, and now the boy sat on the damp pavement of their quiet street with only a few birds trilling from treetops.

Cleve resented their cheerful music. “Shush,” he muttered half-heartedly.

He looked up from where he’d crumpled and saw his mother strolling up the block toward him, having watched her youngest son follow the yellow bus Marvin climbed aboard minutes prior. Kleenex appeared from her right pocket and a chocolate Pop-Tart from the other as she reached him. The boy never realized his mother’s power to produce a magical elixir when the situation called for it, but its soothing effect was not lost on him.

“Mom, I don’t want Marvin to be in second grade,” he told her and grabbed the woman around her calves, tears coming in a new torrent. “And I never want to go to school either – it’s stupid,” he declared. “I want to stay with you.”

She looked down into the well of his brown eyes and shook her head in pity, not wanting to quibble the details requiring this little one to join his brother on that bus next year. Her heart breaking for her son and with a sorrow she knew all too well herself, she replied, “I know, honey. I’ll keep you at home with me as long as I can.”

*Studio 30+ writing prompt – quibble

Studio30(photo: Eric E. Johnson via Flickr)

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Bye Bye Birdy

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At the least desirable moment, the worst possible time, the temperature begins to fall. Summer will end and make the world feel suddenly more volatile. The peaceful break once filled with hope for all things joyful becomes an aching descent into chill and decay.

Everything will soon slow into inaction so the earth can sleep and rejuvenate in winter’s incubation.

High above, arcuates etched in the sky signal migration’s inevitable change of season. Such distant sentinels mark the finality of my dread, as avian abandon means time is ticking.

Leaves soon fall and quickly morph into a dying landscape.

Light deprivation looms close, and depression may follow. Fly away. There’s no going back.
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The Studio 30+ writing prompt “Summer will end” was originally written by Laura.

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The Gang’s All Here

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Murphy was walking out the door when he glanced casually back over his shoulder to announce, “Calhoun’s dead.” Several jaws fell to the floor around the table he just left. Playing cards hit the scratched and beer-soaked wood where the current hand of Texas Hold ‘Em came to an abrupt halt. The news came as quite a shock.

The men grew up in the same neighborhood and spent most summers causing trouble after being let loose from the confines of the public school. Its futile attempt to educate the bunch had fallen short, and they invoked their own instruction by learning rules of the street. Doing so brought them closer through a unique code of ethics, one with honor among thieves.

Regardless of their rough demeanor, everyone sat in shock at Calhoun’s early demise. Murphy led his posse with great aplomb and mostly kept them out of harm’s way. His nonchalance at revealing their friend’s murder was suspicious to say the least.

Milligan slammed down his fist and demanded to know what happened, while the most tendered-hearted of the bunch, Squalls, struggled to stifle tears of grief that sprang to his eyes. He done his first job with Calhoun, albeit a simple snatch-and-grab of an old lady’s purse on 31st Street.  The two had “cut their teeth” as hoodlums and developed an affinity for each other much like brothers.

Squalls thought back to more innocent times when they played stick ball down the block and caught crawfish in a stream at his Grandfather’s farm outside the city during the summer. They learned to use a gun by killing off rattlesnakes out there, his grandparents never suspecting how well that burgeoning skill would serve the budding hooligans in the future.

An aroma of wood smoke came to the man’s senses, and Squalls blinked tears back enough to glance around the room for the source of such a smell. Nothing in the barroom ignited the sensory memory flooding his brain – only a distant recollection of school break spent with Calhoun in that bucolic setting when they were only boys. Not the acquitted felons they now were, their mothers’ greatest failings.

Squalls swiped a stubby finger under both eyes, his gaze cast downward to hide any possible weakness perceived in his grief, and sniffed back a choking sensation welling in his throat. He would let Murphy tell the tale of his friend’s death and then surmise how much of the story he assessed as true.

Looking skeptically around the circle of chairs to grasp any feeling expressed on the subject and coming to no specific conclusion, he stared up at Murphy. The broad-shouldered criminal stood in the doorway, with light from outside casting a halo silhouette around his menacing frame, and exhaled deeply. Murphy’s face remained expressionless, and he calmly stated, “It had to be done, gents. Calhoun was a liability, not an asset.”

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*Studio 30+ prompt – SUMMER

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