Long Island Sunset


Summer is almost over: two months of spongy days, pressed like green stamps into saving books. Every afternoon, I walk down shady suburban streets to the public pool with my best friend Amy. Amy who is always in front, her sandals smacking, as we cut a diagonal path through waxy hedges. I have the same old stringy towel draped over my shoulder, my sneakers still damp from drying, tongues out, on the porch all night.

We pass the deserted junior high, then cross the main highway into the industrial park. Behind the low-slung factories, men in coveralls lean against metal doors, calling Chica! Chica! Chica! Brave Amy curtsies. I wave limply but they are watching her. She is prettier, fluid, the cheeks of her bottom glow like crescent moons above her tanned legs.

How did this happen? It is like I’ve missed a page in a book, one that Amy has studied and absorbed.  We meander up the long hill, Amy talking of boys and clothes and make up. I strain to keep up with her conversation, a foreigner learning a new language.

At the pool, we push through the turnstile. A chorine haze hovers over the water, the high dive like a white walkway into the sky. On the sloped concrete, Amy puts her towel next to mine. I have a two-piece suit, but Amy has a bikini. Next year, I think, I’ll be there too. I hope she waits for me.

As if she can read my mind, Amy sticks her tongue out and smiles, her teeth white as Chicklets.

That evening, I can feel autumn moving closer. Me and Amy practice headstands and cartwheels, the grass brightening as the sun descends.

And with each flip the lawn goes greener, greener, almost to blue.

My parents are relaxing on the redwood deck, a pack of Parliaments between them. A transistor radio plays Jack Jones:

                  Hey little girl, Fix your hair, Do your makeup.

School is one week away. Inside, wool skirts are lined up in the closet and spiral notebooks stacked on the desk. But now, the fireflies blink in the bushes. The moon pulls up behind the hedges and shines down on my family, my street, and Amy who will be my friend forever, all poised on an island shaped like a fish, floating in the choppy water.

Published in Green Briar Review

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash