flash fiction, neighbour, Sarah Sawler, seasons, short stories, summer, time, winter, writing
by Sarah Sawler
Each spring, after surviving a long snowy winter and living through the relentless rain that follows, I begin to look for signs of summer; those long, hot days when adults gather on patios and children sit in their basements playing Minecraft.
Sometimes summer announces itself in the smallest of ways. Bees start to appear in the flowerbeds, the sound of chirping crickets fills the night, and junebugs clack against the windows. But for me, the surest sign of summer is you, sitting in your underwear at the end of your driveway, watching the traffic go by.
As the puddles of spring begin to dry, I look towards your driveway with anticipation. Is today the day? Will you be there in your lawn chair, glass of water in hand?
The summer slips by and I drive past you, day after day. As I do, I wonder about you. Why are you sitting there, your withered buttocks settling ever deeper into the plastic slats of your lawn chair? Perhaps you’re reflecting the summer days of your youth, days spent climbing trees and evenings passed chasing fireflies. Maybe you’re fondly remembering your mother, who sent you out after breakfast to roam the neighbourhood, and called you back at the end of the day for dinner, her sweet voice echoing off the houses. All these nostalgic recollections passing through your mind as you sit, unkempt comb-over flapping as each car drives by.
The deepening colour of your skin is more accurate than any calendar. As the sun gets warmer, your fair skin takes on a pinkish hue, then the flaming red of sunset after a refreshing summer storm. The beaches fill up, and your skin becomes a patchwork quilt, your red skin patterned with blotches of white. I imagine the eventual scaly texture of your skin, as the cycle repeats itself, over and over again.
Sometimes I wonder if you were once a traveller and now you daydream as the minivans and SUVs and campers pass you by, remembering the summer you stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon with the wind filling your white cotton shirt like a sail. Too tired to travel now, you sit, your sagging breasts drooping over your belly, which hangs over your tighty-whities, wistfully remembering a more adventurous time.
Maybe you’re missing the one who got away, your childhood sweetheart, the one you swept off her feet when she was just 18 years old and then married in a flurry of rice and kisses. The two of you left the wedding in a Ford Edsel with a sign on the back window exclaiming “Just Married!”. When she left you, 25 years ago, it was in a much better car. And now you sit, wishing for her unlikely return and melting slowly into your lawnchair like a doll with a dehydrated apple for a head.
But as the summer comes to a close and the first signs of fall appear, the first yellow leaves and the chill in the evening air, I begin to dread the day when you’ll pick up your lawnchair and shuffle back up your driveway, your sagging underwear revealing the loose skin underneath. For that is the day that summer will end.
Sarah Sawler is an author and journalist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her first nonfiction book was published in April, and her articles and book reviews have been published in a range of publications, including Atlantic Business Magazine, Quill & Quire, Halifax Magazine, and ParentsCanada.
Last year, she was accepted into a postgraduate creative writing programme through Humber College. When she was accepted, she was awarded the Richard Scrimger Scholarship, funded by HarperCollins. Since then, she has been honing her fiction writing skills, and has only recently started submitting to literary outlets.
Evocative and memorable.