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A Summer Afternoon

It’s winter, but I hate it, and since I’ve been digging in the writing folder, I decided to revisit this essay from way back in the day when I used to sunbathe which I no longer do, and yes kids, always wear your sunscreen 🙂

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A typical Sunday afternoon finds me lying in the sun on my chaise lounge. I exist for summer, and I have worshipped the sun all my life much to the dismay of my mother. Mother is a self-proclaimed expert on the field of sun bathing. She brings me articles on skin cancer and pamphlets about aging. I humor her, and as soon as she is off, I’m back into my swimsuit lying dreamily under the sun.

The last few weeks my children have been away visiting their grandparents. It has been heaven having all these free tranquil afternoons for sun bathing. I try not to think that this will soon end when they return form their vacation. Mother, of course, will have done her duty keeping them coated with sunscreen.

I have become acquainted with the sounds of my backyard and the many activities there. A family of birds living in a large oak tree have become quite brave much to the agony of my cat. My cat, Arthur, is usually quite lethargic during the day. He has most of his fun at night stalking innocent rodents and such. Arthur quietly sits under the shad of the tree and regards me casually. He is solid black, and I feel that he must be very hot while supervising my sun bathing sessions. As long as the birds maintain their distance, Arthur really doesn’t mind their chatter. Instead, he is rather bored with his surroundings and concentrates his effort on finding the perfect napping spot.

I am aroused from my thoughts by the bulldog next door. In fact, his name is Bulldog. He is a rather stupid animal, really. Don’t misunderstand me, I like animals, but I’d rather this one move away. For you see, Bulldog is the mortal enemy of the dog who lives at the house on the other side of him. I have developed a fondness for this shaggy dog who is so comical and half Skye Terrier. The shaggy dog’s name is Butch, and he is a happy dog. He never makes trouble for anyone. On those rare occasions that Butch as been out of his yard, he has not once attempted to accost Arthur. Butch strolls around on his short legs, his stocky frame wagging his fuzzy tail. The only fault I can possibly find with him is that he desperately needs a bath.

There is a ritual that begins everyday at this time involving Bulldog and Butch. Bulldog runs to the chain link fence enticing Butch to rise, bristle, then they begin to bark incessantly at each other. Butch’s master comes outside and scolds him, sometimes giving him a squirt of water from a spray bottle which Butch hates. Meanwhile, Bulldog returns to his corner of the fence with a smirk on his flat, stupid face.

I roll over. I feel the beads of perspiration on my forehead. I reach blindly for my cool, wet cloth. This offers a moment of relief and I sink comfortably into my next dream. As I lie on my back, I feel the intense, warming rays of the sun. I am almost without a body or an identity whatsoever. I feel as though the sun has taken control of my soul. For a moment I am lost in space. I am somewhere in the midst of palm trees and the ocean. There is lush greenery everywhere. White sand stretches along miles and miles of beach. It is absolute heaven. There is a ship in the distance. I am on vacation somewhere tropical. I swim in a lagoon, a clear aqua pool reflects my movements. I can see many feet below the surface. I watch the brightly colored fish regard me with awe. They do not appear to be worried as I invade their space. I close my eyes and gently flow with the water.

A gull soars overhead, it dips and sways with the melody of the wind. My toes crinkle because I have been in the water so long. I breathe in the salty air of the sea. I decide to swim toward the shore. I stretch my arms and kick my feet in the direction of the palm trees. It is such hard work and I am growing tired. It seems the more I try to reach the shore, the longer the distance becomes. Finally, with a great loss of breath, I climb onto the white sand. I look out to the sea for the ship. I notice it is gone. I am alone on this island, and inexplicably, I feel a little sad. I find my towel and spread it out on the sand. Exhausted, I like down and close my eyes. I feel the penetrating rays of the sun…

I am aroused from my dream by the sound of my brother starting his boat motor. He has been working on that boat all afternoon at my house. I raise my head to notice that he is sweating profusely as he wriggles out of his t-shirt. Across the lawn, Arthur has finished his nap. He licks his paws. Arthur is either contemplating the spot for his next rest period or an afternoon snack. The birds begin their game as the cat stretches. He is disgusted. With a tilt of his arrogant head, he walks toward the shelter of my chaise lounge. There he curls himself into a fat, black lump at the end of my feet. The birds loose interest. Humans are dull. And large. They fly back to their tree.

Meanwhile, Bulldog next door is planning his counter attack on Butch. Butch is pretending not to notice as he rolls around in the grass. I believe he is attempting to discourage the fleas. During the summer, it has become a flea’s world. Butch soon ends the battle. He is quite contented to carry himself and the fleas for a drink of water. He waddles off in the direction of the bowl.

Bulldog’s flat face appears to be absorbed in thought, or at least, his version of a thought. His pug nose presses against the side of the fence. He looks at me as if to say,

Want to see me get him?” Butch returns to the shade of the tree. He cocks his head to examine Bulldog. His matted, dirty hair falls to one side. Bulldog races to the fence line. Butch is up in a moment. They commence their barking, snarling, and yelping. The dogs chase each other the length of the fence. Bulldog’s master comes outside, and Butch’s owner follows. The two men stare at each other. Butch’s owner goes for the spray bottle. The bulldog owner chains his dog at the other end of the yard. The two men disappear into their houses.

I turn over on my stomach to regard the tiny weed flowers scattered throughout my lawn. In the distance I can hear the snow cone man. Children are clamoring to announce his arrival. Not my children. I feel the hypnotic effect of the sun as it begins to draw me into another dimension. This time there is no ocean. I am skiing down the slope of a mountain. Cool white snow….

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