As soon as the ice cold and chlorine intoxicated water comes into contact with my hot skin, I hear the music begin. My feet pad across the pool floor, smooth and slippery. My mother is tanning on my hot pink lounge chair and as her acrylic-clad fingers press the volume up button, I do a full tilt, finding myself fully submerged in the water.
It has been summer for a full three weeks now, and I have done nothing but lounge. My bedroom floor is littered with old magazines and tank tops. Saltine cracker crumbs cover my bedsheets and the soporific days drag on. I hold my breath for as long as I possibly can without drowning. I wonder if my mother has yet to look over and check if I’m still alive. I come up, near gasping for air, my soaked bangs slathered up against my forehead and my eyes squinty as I look to find her eyes still closed underneath her sunglasses. She’s oily in the sun and I can’t help but to compare her to a roasted chicken leg in my mind. I stifle a laugh.
Over the dreadful pop music my mother seems to savor I hear a small ding. And then another. After a few more, I press my palms against the burning hot pavement on the side of the pool, my hands scold the sun for this, and I heave my body out. The dings sound familiar but I can’t quite put my finger on it, like a childhood memory. My mother doesn’t move an inch.
Once I finally come to terms and realize it’s the ice cream truck, my feet are moving one by one, making ugly squishy noises as they hit the ground. I decide to take a detour through my house which stands between our pool and the ice cream truck, snatching up a couple dollar bills and coins off of the living room coffee table, nearly stubbing my toe on the leg. I start to run now, just to make sure not to miss it. My heart beats with each footstep I take, the truck’s music seeming to speed up as it rolls closer toward my house.
It doesn’t take long for my eyes to spot the obnoxiously painted truck, neons and cartoon characters and a mess of decorations. My mind swirls as I look it over. I walk at a normal pace now down my front lawn, only just now realizing I’m still wearing a swimsuit. The summer air clings to my skin and dries up any leftover droplets of pool water. I stand at the edge of the street and the distasteful truck stops directly in front of me.
In a swift moment, a boy aging a few years above me pushes open the window and asks how he can help me. He is the type of boy girls would hit teasingly and whisper about over frozen yogurt. All I notice is the tiny, dry drop of strawberry ice cream sitting upon his chin. I begin to feel sick.
I stare at the drop for a few more moments before he laughs at me, a wide and booming laugh that practically makes me jump. He asks once again how he can help me and I don’t answer. I reach forward, standing on my tiptoes. My thumb comes into contact with my tongue and his chin soon after, and he looks as though I just stabbed him in the chest.
Anything but strawberry, I tell myself. My stomach churns at the thought and I order a banana split. My mother and I will share it, I tell him. He looks down and back up at me again, his eyebrows furrowed and I know he’s thinking why I felt the need to share that bit of information. I hand over my money in perfect change.