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Short Story

The Symphony


The evening hum of fresh summer rainfall

You pull down the edges of your shorts

As the brisk air conditioning inside your car

Nips at your naked skin


Female voices are crooning on the radio

To the romantics and the recluses still awake

They charm the storm clouds closer

With their velvet whispers


Clusters of grey, blue and purple

Invade the sky quickly and with purpose

Like bandits, stealing the moonlight

You tap the gas pedal with uncertainty


Moments later, thunder shatters the air

Announcing its’ arrival with hearty laughs

Followed by smaller rumbles

Echoing after like snide chuckles


In the darkness, the asphalt becomes

Cavernous pools of black water

Stirred into motion by raindrops,

That race each other like youth in revolt

Betting on who will crash into the ground first


Car headlights bleed into the road ahead

The beams are spotlights into the unknown


Water showers onto your windshield

Saturated colors smudge like melting wax

Blurry visions of road signs, yellow and red

Diamonds and triangles and hexagons


The storm plays like a symphony,

The unseen conductor cues

The lightning and the thunder


Entranced, you stare at it all

Familiar but extraordinary

The charcoal sky combines with the reflective road

Where puddles are luminous with the glow of streetlights


The world plays for you it's sweet hymn

And your eyelids become drowsy with the tender noise


The conductor notices you

He flicks his baton


And with a CRASH


You complete the song

Summer to Her

Summer to her smells like chlorine and saltwater and peach lemonade. She remembers the warmth of the sun covering her like a giant blanket as sand diamonds slip through her fingers. The air is thick and sticky so she pours it into a bottle and traps it with a corkscrew. When the first frost taps on her window, she will open the caged breath of summer and catch the air in her tiny hands before it withers away.

I keep having this recurring dream where I find the bottle of sea breeze waiting for me on my bed. It’s a birthday gift, for whenever my birthday decides to be that year. There is a big, blue ribbon wrapped around it, the kind of ribbon an adult with a checking account and brick fireplace might have. The glass reminds me of the ninety-nine cent coke bottles they used to buy for us as a treat, except the glass on this bottle is so crystal clear that I can see all the way through. In the bottle, wind gusts curl within themselves and I can see the warmth.

I want to touch it, hold it, keep it.

Wavering as it gets closer, my finger grazes the crystal rim as if it’s fine china.

Immediately, the glass rim shatters into what must be three hundred and sixteen different pieces. Shards of glass are on my bed, on the floor, on my lap. The summer blue air races to the ceiling like a cloud and evaporates. There is a passing whiff of sea salt. Then nothing is left but me and the rows of occupied beds besides me. The sound of someone crying pins through my dream.

My eyes flutter open; I am awake. One of the nuns is patting the back of a girl. Her tears flow from her eyes like downhill rivers. The house lights power on and now I once again am forced to see the dulled peach paint peeling on the walls. The girl can’t be more than five years old. Pale freckles generously dot her face and her eyelashes extend far past where I thought eyelashes could grow to. Her eyes clench tightly together as if she is about to click her ruby slippers together three times and just disappear.

“How red your face is,” the nun scolds the child. “You wouldn’t want them to see you like this, now would you Angela?”

They tell us that we have to always smile or else they won’t choose us. I don’t know why it matters so much, sometimes I feel sad and don’t want to smile.

The nun leaves the room and I am alone again. I am surrounded by so many names.

None of them is mom.

None of them is dad.

None of them will stay.

I lay flat on my back, adjusting my back a bit so the spring in the old mattress doesn’t dig into my shoulder. The bed groans with exhaustion, as if holding not only the weight of my body but also of my thoughts.

I am a trillion miles away: it’s summertime in Florida and she is building sandcastles. Her dad lifts the red bucket overflowing with sloshing water to the moat she dug in front of her palace. It must weigh a ton, but he is strong enough.

Her mom peaks over a copy of Vogue, but it’s not the latest month because this is the bent one her mom “borrowed” from the dentist waiting room. Yesterday her daughter lost her first tooth and the girl is rewarded with a peach lollipop. Now that tooth is filed away somewhere carefully, like an ancient artifact that needs to be preserved. The gap in her front teeth makes her mother’s heart swell ten sizes larger with adoration.  

When I dream, I see summer in Florida, but when I wake I can’t shake the fantasy. I toss and turn but it’s a bittersweet aftertaste.

Summer to her smells like chlorine and saltwater and peach lemonade. One day I pray I will look in the mirror and see that the girl is me.

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