A wild wind blows the darkness into the dining room. A car revs on the arterial outside our open windows. The maples toss their thin, leafy arms up in despair. Our short summer takes a deep, refreshing breath, cooling our children finally dreaming comfortably in their four little beds, cooling the sucking, sleepless heat of these rare 100-degree days in an 100 year-old house.
I love it. The heat. The plump, flawless skin, uncracked, unchapped, smelling of slathered sunblock and sweat. The blinding light. Vinyl seats that burn the backs of our legs. “My back is sweating,” Quinn wails from the farthest row of the van. I nod without sympathy because isn’t it wonderful?
This is summer and I want more. I want fireflies. I want summer nights so hot that you go to bed on a towel, soaking wet. I want unbidden memories of the smell of Ohio in July, of painting sidewalks with Grandpa’s paintbrushes and a pail of water, my masterpieces drying to nothing before they could be finished.
Saige and Garrett and Quinn painted the fence this afternoon. The dog and I watched, tongues hanging. Ice melted in my glass. Bubbles floated in his bowl. The ice cream truck drove by tinkling brazenly and Nate clapped his hands from the dirt, his Lightening McQueen car forgotten. “The dancing truck!”
“No, Nate,” Saige corrected him over her shoulder, art suspended behind her. “It’s the ice cream truck. Mommy’s kidding.”
“Oh,” he said, almost sad. At my duplicity or at the loss of such a thing as a dancing truck, I don’t know.
Sometimes, what you believe to be true is not and you are left holding nothing but a painting painted in water in the heat. Until someone hands you ice cream.
Above their heads, the pines started to sway. The sun still shone. Nothing altered except a strange lessening of pressure, the outtake of damp breath in our faces. Tonight’s storm coming, pushing change and sleep in front of it.