The Summer I Was Sixteen Vignettes

 

I discovered poetry hidden underneath crevices

With the pennies between the couch cushions

Drying along my skin with the sea salt

Dripping off of his eyelashes

 

Dry, sticky air whisked me into it’s embrace, unknowingly sparking my desire to remain cooped up in my bedroom equipped with half-empty water bottles and peeling, yellow wallpaper. My eyes stayed trained on the moribund walls, sweat beading along my skin in tiny droplets of despair. On a particularly dusty afternoon, my mother made her way into my hectic space; her adornments hung on her in threes for “good luck”, three necklaces, three bracelets, three rings on her first three fingers. Her eyebrows knit together at the sight of my languid face. I had torn various pages of prose and pretty words out of books, tacked them onto my walls, scattered them about and wrote them on my hands which begged to see sunlight. An earthquake erupted in her voice as she told me this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it. I knew the quote well, fought the urge to find it among my bookshelves, and let the flick of her hand pull me up and push me into the blistering sun.

 

Cool water beckoned me and I shed my pale, fifteen skin

Freshly pricked by rose thorns

We spoke in a new language of stifled giggles,

Fingertip touches, accidental

 

Chlorine burned my nose with it’s unique aroma and worked with the sunshine to bleach my hair back to it’s usual, bright blonde. Everything seemed to fit me in the wrong way. My mother’s light touch made it’s way across the outline that which the freckles on my shoulders formed, each of us dragging along two towels and the courage of a lion. Fighting for a chair at the community pool was World War 3 in our minds. Oily girls and sunburnt boys lined the water as it’s waves splashed up to my ankles. Talk of weekend plans and shiny hotdog stands buzzed in my ears with the honeybees, an obnoxious magazine resting in my fingers, a collection of poems hiding behind it. The soft afternoon wind blew in my newfound hobby of peeking over the brim of my sunglasses at boys, something I would have scowled at last summer. Slipping into the deep end, the water wrapped itself around me and in turn pulled my swimsuit closer to me, earning an eye roll from the brand new attitude that I wore like armor nowadays. A pair of squinty eyes and a red face made his way over to me; my head spun like a whirlpool.

 

Sticky gel alleviated mosquito bites, sunburns,

Bumblebee stings alike

Twilight– one sip of alcohol, only one

My mother floated everywhere in a day

 

On a Wednesday, he took my hand

A late night picnic paired with smiling stars

And the mundane moon, hiding behind unseen mist

My bare feet tangled damp grass

 

Nighttime was my favorite. Air conditioning swept against my blistered and battered skin, alleviating my aching bones like a panacea. Moonlight crept through my windowsill and tugged at my eyelashes, beckoning me to come and see all he had to offer, the stars scattered around the clear sky like Dippin’ Dots. A rare smile spread across my face without effort and soon I found myself, jean shorts and all, in the backyard chasing after fireflies and soon after, catching his hand instead.

 

Gas station slushies, an unlocked treasure

The girls stood tall, walking stormclouds of sunscreen

And sass, pinkies locked with a whispered oath, I swear to never forget

The summer we were sixteen

 

A bit more than halfway through summer, fortunate girls received their licenses along with a pair of keys and a heap of trust. Adventures were handed out like candy, the sweetest of them all. Our hands reached for the sun, waved at passing boys and covered our mouths as we giggled into them. Arms linked, we took Summer by the collar and made it our own.

 

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