[This is a fictional entry!]
The first day of September – far too hot in the Valley for the winds to stir up a much longed for chill. Even despite knowing that, as all who have lived in the Valley the majority of their lives do, most still hoped: maybe no good would come of it, but that wouldn’t stop the hushed prayers for rain or even just the simplest of gusts as a break from the relentless heat.
Like others, I’d lived in the Valley for my entire life (which is nothing to brag about). I’d gone over twenty Christmases without snow and many years with the perpetual voices saying “only order water if you’re going to drink it all,” since the drought is on the tip of at least one person’s tongue in company. So I’d lived in the Valley for many years; I should have known better than to hope for cool in summer, but clearly I didn’t.
We sat under a tree that was in the field between our houses – my neighbor from a half mile down and I – just listening to his corny sci-fi recordings blaring from his phone. It was like listening to radio broadcasts in real-time (or at least that was supposed to be the idea, except they all described Autumn weather that was more suitable for October than Austust/September). In the background, a woman screamed for her child and my neighbor laughed, though not loudly enough to cover the broadcaster’s gasp of mock horror. Everybody wanted to be an Orson.
Beads of sweat were sliding over the slope of my forehead to the drop of my cheek and then back over, like one of those raft rides at the water parks. Oh… What I’d do to be at one of those…
He didn’t even look over at me as he headed me a can of coke from his little ice chest. I took it, relishing the sensation of icy perspiration on my palm for a moment before popping the can open and watching that little wave of cold leak from the instead – a whole world of cold in a can, just waiting to be released. I didn’t say thanks (because who really says thanks to their best friends when they already know?) but instead nodded before downing half the can in one upping. He took out another can from the ice chest and did the same.
Violent shrieks from the phone became louder and the broadcaster’s voice was brought to faux-life with a more exuberant tone that lacked any fear. I looked beside me and the grin that was spread across his face told the story of every summer I’d ever known in the Valley since he’d moved here at the age of eight. Another scream from his phone. Too many screams to be realistic. At least all of that probably meant it was at the climax of the story and would be ending soon.
No more than five minutes had past and everyone was dead, including the broadcaster. Silence. Static. End.
He never asked what I thought about them anymore because he knew I’d give the same answer every time: I was a firm truth-teller, even if it meant leaving him un-appeased. We sat there for a moment in the silence and then he reached between us. I didn’t bother looking at him – my eyes were trained on he cloudless sky that killed all hopes of a summer rain in the drought. After all, he’d either be grabbing his phone to find a new broadcast (although there were very few that I hadn’t heard, by this point) or to find something similarly dis-interesting to play for us. That’s a little harsh… As far as music went, we liked the same genres and bands, but on summer days under the tree, it was never music that we listened to. A minute ticked by and then I heard the straight voices of men and women speaking in turn with descriptions and confirmations: the police scanner was a particular favorite of his. He found it fascinating; I found it depressing.
I’d settled back on my hands, feeling the coarseness of the dirt that had not yet been disc-ed on my skin. (Well, the area under the tree was never disc-ed because it was illegal to tear down oak trees in this county and none of the farmers wanted to risk getting too close to it.) My hairline seemed to cry from the heat, sending sweat tricking down my neck and back. At least I’d cropped my hair for summer, so there was that.
Ice. Cold. A shiver that brought life to my tired body. I flinched away from it while yearning to settle back into it at the same time. I turned and saw the my neighbor had his coke can inches from my neck with a mischievous grin on his face. Devil, that angelic devil. After a moment of thinking, I leaned back to the ice chest and opened it, immediately disappointed that there was no more soda for us, which signified the near end of the visit to the tree. Instead of closing the chest and leaving empty-handed, however, I reached inside and let my fingers curl around the little cubes of winter that chilled me instantly. It would have felt better if I’d eased into it, but the contrast from hot to cold in seconds was killing my hand. So, I pulled it out, still holding the little cubes, and closed the lid. My neighbor was looking up at the sky, same as we often did on days like that, and I thanked the world for giving me the element of surprise as I slipped the ice down the neck of his shirt.
The string of curses that followed was too grotesque for present company, so I shall refrain.
What mattered, though, despite the little fight in the field that we’d gotten ourselves into, flinging ice every which way and pegging each other with the too-cold objects, was that we’d created out own little winter in summer.