Sunflower Skins

June 2, 2010

Sketches, Experiment 1: 29/07/1976

Filed under: experiments, prose — Tags: , — Sunflower Skins @ 3:49 pm


I approach the swing set carefully, listening sharply for any indication that I’m caught. Past dark. This summer was supposed to be different, the 13th summer, longer curfew, but not a chance. There’s a rabid dog loose in the neighbourhood, a wild animal rampaging through our flower beds and vegetable gardens. He prowls across the patio, hiding in the shadow cast by the hammock.

I creep toward the swing set cautiously, my heart loud in my chest. Feels like I’m thundering something awful inside. And my shadow, ghastly. Dew on the grass. Crickets. The communal park, between our houses and pools, is less a park than a slide and a swing. Deserted because of danger, because of the humidity; heat lightning in the west.

I wipe my sweaty hands on the seat of my shorts. If Neil Haggarty doesn’t show, I’ll kill him. Mom and dad would bust a hernia if they knew. But can’t control this wild animal.

Where is he?

The neighbouring lights are beginning to brighten, windows lit up with dancing silhouettes; or, behind a curtain, emptiness grim beyond all expectations, despite all precautions and investments. The lights burn, burn inside me, see a glow arise from Neil’s house, just behind the first ring of the courtyard. The heaviness of the night – July lethargy, sweetness smells, my new perfume – only enhance the feeling that what I wait for is worth the while. He will come to me.

I smack a mosquito on my thigh. Blood. Thunder rumbles. Sleepiness and entirely alert, nerves on end, my body poised. The dog’s golden eyes, mad, stare me down, and I hear my mother’s weary, frustrated voice calling my name. I return the rabid glare, leaning against the slide the whole time.

Then I turn my back on the dog, to better shelter elsewhere. Trotting away, I lick the foam from my lips.

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