the first day of summer

The heat came early in the morning from nowhere, and by the afternoon it was pressing down on all sides. The first day of summer, I called it. Roddy said it was just a phantom. We closed the curtains and sat around without clothes. My back was slick with sweat, and the backs of my knees. He touched me there, but made a face and wiped his hand on the couch. We argued about it. I went to the garden. He stayed inside.

He sent me an SMS, from the house to the garden, full of typos and nonsense chat. He knew it’d make me laugh. I sent one back. Wtf, it said. I added a smile for reinforcement. It went on and on from there, and things got repaired. I stayed outside though, protecting this new cordiality with over-punctuation, irony and silly emoticons. It was easier than talking.

I heard Pino rustling round in his backyard, tapping his thermometer. He peered over the fence. 34 degrees, he said. Beautiful, I said. You’ll burn, he said. I moved to the shade.

It got darker, and it cooled, but not much. And then the air filled with tiny ash-like insects. I dozed with their papery wings tickling my eyelids and inside my ears. When I woke it was still warm, but the insects were gone. I was groggy. I turned on the tap and the hose kicked around and spat. I turned the spray on myself, yelped with the cold, then drenched the plants. Roddy was standing there like a naked ghost. What the fuck, he said. You’ll wake the neighbours. But he was smiling. Come inside, he said. Come inside. It’s late.

5 thoughts on “the first day of summer

  1. Love the imagery Barry – those ‘tiny ash-like insects’. I could feel the heat. And the tension….. as always. Great. xxx

    1. I could tell it was you, Helen! I’m thinking of working this into a longer piece and using it for Starting Over instead of my original idea. What do you think? I’d have to make more of the argument.

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