Sounds of Summer
This whole week is setting up to be very, very hot. A scorcher. It's almost akin to winter with everyone seeking shelter inside, only we still have night, and night is a beautiful world when summer has her wings around it. The stars, peeking through a denim sky, the moon and her milky glow spreading across every surface, the fireflies and their sparkling dance.
I haven't heard a locust yet. Or a cricket. But perhaps I haven't been listening. I'll make it point tonight, when the kids are out there running around, to pick out all the sounds of summer.
It used to be a lot of fun to sleep out on someone's screened-in porch on a summer night; like camping, but not as messy. We tried to have a seance once, but I freaked out and broke the circle, typical. We'd each named the person that we wanted to come through to speak to us: Kelly had John Wayne, my sister had Elvis, and I had Marilyn Monroe. Kelly, who seemed to be the expert in all things occult, started the seance, saying with stern expertise that the circle must not be broken or our ghosts would be set loose, and mad for having been woken out of their death sleep, follow us around forever. I didn't like the sound of that and started to plan an escape from the obviously-not-mom-approved ceremony. Kelly started to chant, and then called on each spirit, "Are you there John Wayne?" We listened patiently to hear a southern drawl to come out of nowhere. I swallowed hard, and started to wiggle my fingers nervously in each girl's clasp. No John Wayne. "Are you there Elvis?" Oh god, surely Elvis was too busy for some stupid girls from Kansas. We hadn't even brushed our teeth yet! No Elvis. "Are you there Marilyn?" I'd already lucked out twice, and didn't want to risk the rest of my human existence with this last taunt of the ghost stockpile. I yanked my hand away from the girls and then sat on my knees, penitent but relieved. "Sorry."
Kelly shrugged. "It's okay. Nobody was coming through but my grandmother anyway."
"Your . . . your grandmother?"
"Yeah. Hey, who wants to tell scary stories?"
That was the first rule of summer sleepovers: a certain level of fear must always be created and kept until each person had had enough or fallen asleep. Mosquitos rammed into the screen mesh, hungry. Brothers snuck around out in the darkness, contemplating pranks. Moms ate cookies and watched Dallas, while the air-conditioner whirred away in the front living room window.
Trains wailed by across the miles, like ghosts, true ghosts, fading into the night.