The sky was the color of the ice cream she held in her hand. The sun was beating down on her head of brown hair, and to move almost likened swimming. The humidity was thick, her tread was weary. The dessert melted over the edge of the cone, freckling her pale skin with blue. This, she thought, is what summer really is. Not cheerful picnics and boat rides, but sticky skin and hands to match, sweaty underarms, scabs that take forever to heal. Her hand graced the back of her neck as she pulled her wild mane into a frantic bun. It was a slight improvement.
She tilted her head to get a good lick in at the cone. Her undershirt was suctioned to her back. She wished that one of her family members had a pool she could drop into whenever she wanted. Or just some change left in the pocket of her plaid shorts to pay her way into a public one. But she'd bought a two-dollar ice cream, so there that had gone.
School would start in a few weeks. She found herself looking forward to it. Sophomore, she thought. Driving. Jobs. Crushes. Her mind stretched on to next summer, wondering where she'd be then. Probably working, with plenty of money to pay for all the cones and days of swimming she wanted. But possibly no time for those things, no time to stretch out with leisure, waiting for her skin to warm before she plunged into the silky deep. No time to savor her cone. She'd have to wolf it down in three bites to get to work in time.
Maybe she'd have a boyfriend. Who would he be? She wondered if they would've said I love you by then. Or if they'd be on-and-off, unsure of where they stood, desperate to love and be loved despite that. As of now, she could look at that scenario unbiased. But what then, she thought. Will I even remember this then?
There would always be days like these, she figured. And that was some small comfort. Years from now, whether she was in college or pregnant or staying inside to read, the sun would still beat down. Her ice cream cones would still melt faster than she could eat them. And she'd still be wondering where she'd be next year.