It was the last day of summer. You were nothing but a blurry silhouette at the top of the hill, a small figure awash in shades of purple as you ran with your siblings through the dusk. The air was perfect—just cool enough hold a gentle sharpness, yet soaked with the softest lingering warmth and edged with a bittersweet fragrance. I waded through a knee-deep ocean of dying grass and stood at the gate, watching you, allowing myself to melt into the motionless moment.
All around me, nighttime creatures warmed up for their farewell song to the light, humming along to the intricate melody of the shadows. I blinked, suddenly remembering why I had come outside—to call you back to the house for dinner. I remained silent, feeling as if moving or even breathing too loudly would shatter something irreplaceable that I couldn’t quite grasp. I wanted to reach into the sky and hold the sun still, to exist in this moment of swaying grass against my legs and hazy light that invited me to dissolve right into it by simply closing my eyes and letting go.
A joyful shout yanked me from my trance. You had spotted me from the top of the hill, your siblings staying behind as you charged in my direction, laughing gleefully. You ran like I used to, elbows flying, your breath coming in deep gasps, your face lifted to catch the wind. As you neared me, you tripped over the uneven ground and tumbled to your knees, fighting back tears as you scrubbed at your dirt-stained face with tight fists. I closed the distance between us and picked you up, inspecting your scrapes and promising between your sobs that you were really, truly okay.
I could have carried you for a thousand miles that way—your warm arms wrapped around my neck, your sticky, sweaty curls pressed against my shoulder, your right shoe thumping against my knee with every step I took. I pressed my face into the back of your dirty t-shirt and breathed. You smelled like laughter in the darkness and fading summertime. I could feel your steady heartbeat against my erratic one as your tears began to dry and your voice, sweet and certain, rang out beside my ear. You pointed to bending flower stems in the near-darkness, breathing more softly as you chattered away in broken, lisping syllables.
The sun was gone, and a few distant stars were already blinking to life, taking the warmth of daylight along with them. The trees were nothing but foreboding shapes against the sky. I shivered, hurrying towards the warm glow of the house. Outside the front door, I hesitated, reluctant to leave the strange comfort of the darkness. I wondered how many summers I had left before you’d be embarrassed at the idea of letting your sister carry you like this.
You tapped your foot against my knee, breaking the quiet with a small voice. “Band-aid?”
“Okay.” I hugged you close against my shoulder and pushed the door open, stepping into the yellow warmth, leaving the last hours of summer to slip away into the blue-tinged night.
♫ summer’s end came faster than we wanted / come on home, come on home / you don’t have to be alone ♫
(partially written in September 2019, revisited & finished today)
yes, it’s the week before christmas, but I’m missing summer, so here we are :)