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August 29, 2017

Fiction: Summer memories in three slices

I remember heat so severe that the world seemed to have melted and I along with it. Relief came in short bursts of drizzles and light winds. But they dissipated so quickly that they might as well never happened. I chased clouds in my head and drank cool liquids like sugar cane and guava juice.

One hot afternoon, which all afternoons were that summer, four of us gathered our savings and brought a vanilla cone. We held the cone tightly with much hunger - hands on top of hands on top of hands. We each took a small bite while the ice cream dripped onto our fingers and eventually stuck them together. We did not let go until all was gone. We licked our fingers with wistful tongues and wished for more. Then we quietly sat on the hot ground like starving deserts needing water.

I remember school days like daydreams. Classes started when the sun rise and ended when the sun set. Too many of us were tightly packed into a small room with two windows. Cloudy off-white walls, dingy desks and blackboards using chalks so old, that whatever was written was wiped away by the afternoon sunlight. Papers, pencils and books were scarce but that didn't matter as much as the lacking of lunches.

Both girls and boys wore the same bowl-shaped hair cut - short, crooked on the side and sometimes so uneven that the boy or girl would tilt his or her head as if trying to even it out. Most had dirt on their faces. Some wore shoes with holes in the toes. Some wore no shoes at all. We were mirror images of each other but we were young so it didn't matter how we look. We saw ourselves as moldable objects, ready to bend at any adult's request.

As the windows and the door were kept opened to allow air in, the heat came often with strong punches while the clouds rolled by and forgot to rain. We watched the shadows moved while hoping every now and then, some swift wind would sneak in and cool our heads just a little.

Our attention wasn't always on the teacher. A few of us were woken by a loud bang usually by the teacher striking a ruler or a book on the desk. No harsh words or strong hands were given as the teachers themselves were just as lazy-minded as us. They didn't want to be there either. Sometimes the teachers would run off talking about things we didn't understand but we daydreamed with them.

Still, we stayed even though the hours felt long. The air was tight. The heat was overwhelming. We became more languid as the days went by.

When the sun set, we dragged ourselves home for dinner in the semi-darkness and forgot everything that we've learned that day.

I remember a sky so blue that my vision wavered as if everything around me was a mirage. The sun was brilliant, it hurt to even look sideways at anything. There was a break once where the sky changed to grey and the grey stayed so long that I forgot it had ever been any other color. White sheets shadowed the wind as the clouds wandered above seemingly not wanting to leave and yet not wanting to rain either. Wash day came and went while the sun slept through the weeks. Then it came back and brought the heat. The clouds never showered and rain was a fairytale that was read at night. The sun continued to beat the ground and us. At night, we slept in the cool shadow of the moon holding a fan in one hand and a towel in the other. One to cool us and the other to wipe at the sweat. No lullabies came from the wind. Only silence and the ever aching heat.


I'm participating in the 10 Days of Heat Writing Challenge and today's theme is 'Best summer memory.' To visit other bloggers participating in the challenge, go here.
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