Slouching Toward Summer

A Martyred Memoir

They giggled as they ran through the field. Chasing one another, looking not quite alike, but not entirely different. They lived in different places, barely knew each other, but the bond between them was stronger than trust. It was blood.

As their grandmother watched through the farm-kitchen window, they hefted their bags over shoulders. The lunch she'd prepared to be eaten later bumped on their backs as they ran.

There were three boys and three girls, the six that were caught in the middle. The two looked like twin sisters to the indiscriminating eye, and they liked to pretend they were, although they lived miles apart.

Hot sun pounded down as they kicked off their shoes, sweltering toes released. As their freely bared feet padded through hills of weeds, all warnings of ticks and snakes were ignored, exchanged for the freedom of summer and this distance from rules.

As they topped the last hill and began their descent, the cool water of the creek invited. Dropping shoes and lunches on the bank of the creek, they raced toward the edge. "Last one in is a rotten egg," but no one bothered to note who that was.

They splashed for a few minutes and cooled themselves off, before returning to their bags on the shore. They opened the treasures that Gramma had packed: buttered bread, cold chicken pieces, sweet pickles, and still warm sugared cookies.

Laughing and teasing as if always friends, the six of them shared this meal.

The sun inspired a glistening sweat as they finished the last of their food. Quickly, they stuffed empty wrappers and shoes back into bags and threw them in a heap, before returning to the relief of the creek.

Several minutes later, the happy splashing became an all out war of girls vs. boys. What little they'd done to try to keep clothes dry, was thrown to the wind amid huge tidal waves created by their arms.

It was when she lost her footing and fell to the stony bottom of the creek, her ankle cut and knee skinned, that she screamed loud enough to cause them all to stare, frozen.

The eyes black as night simply glared at her as the body lashed against her leg. The angry hiss was covered by the shrieking of the other five, scrambling toward the bank, desperate to escape this sudden danger.

Never in their lives had they moved so fast, gathering their things as they fled.

She was last to get out, mesmerized by those eyes, and faltering to even stand. As she pulled herself out from the now-tainted space, she noted the others had left her behind.

She decided to run, but her feet wouldn't listen. Instead they turned in a fascinated draw. She stood on the bank and stared at the snake, striking visciously at nothing at all.

Somehow she knew this would be her whole life: constantly running from imaginary danger.

1 comment:

twenty(or)something said...

Beautiful. And poignant.