5/8/08

Summer Story: The Summer Afternoon

"Can I go, Mom? Please?" I danced from foot to foot in excited anticipation. "Please?" I said again, thinking being extra polite wouldn’t hurt any.

My mother glanced up at me from the pile of mail she was going through, then looked over at Niki, already in her swimsuit with her face pressed up against the screen door. Mom closed her eyes for a moment, then sighed. "All right."

I whooped and had already started for my room to change when she said, "But don’t track water into the house. Make sure you’re completely dry."

"Okay!" I called through the mess of clothes going over my head.

"And put your things in the hamper!"

I quickly scooped my discarded shirt and shorts off the floor and slammed them into the laundry basket with one hand while I slid the strap of my suit over my shoulder with the other. I grabbed the first towel I could find and was headed out the door when my mother’s voice stopped me. "Anna."

My back tensed. Was she going to change her mind? "What, Mom?"

She gave me a sort of pained smile. "Have fun."

I grinned. "Thanks."

"And be careful–"

The screen door banged, cutting off her words as I launched myself off the front porch. Niki and I wahooed with glee as we cut through the hedge to her house.

After spreading our towels on the driveway, we thumped the oscillating sprinkler down right in the middle of the yard.

Niki grunted as she wrenched the spigot. With a squeak and a high-pitched scree! the water raced to the end of the hose. We watched, excitedly dancing on the grass in our bathing suits, as the slow trickle strengthened into a rainbow of spray.

The sprinkler slowly moved back and forth, zinging against the fence post on one side.

"Ready?" Niki said.

I nodded. "Let’s go together!"

We grabbed hands. "One. Two. Three!" in unison, squealing as the water sliced through our bodies and shocked us breathless.

"Watch this!" Niki ran back in, standing directly over the spray as it moved.

I laughed and stood next to her, the water sluicing the remaining dust off my legs.

We ran back again and again, hurdling over the spray when it was low and breaking through like Olympic runners when it was upright.

Teeth chattering, we pattered over to the driveway (the warmest spot available), our footprints following us on the walkway then fading to nothing.

Niki watched the footprints for a couple of seconds, then smiled hugely. She sat on the driveway in her wet swimsuit, the hot, dusty smell of wet concrete filling the air. "Look!" she said. "Bum prints!"

We made bum tracks all the way down the driveway, watching to see which lasted the longest. Then we lay face down on our towels, the hard cement offering little cushion to our cheeks. We closed our eyes, shivering slightly in the cold as the gentle breeze licked off the last of the moisture, leaving our limbs goose-pimpled until the sun baked them smooth again.

A minute passed, or maybe two. I was completely dry now, except for my hair.

I opened one eye. "Nik?"

"Yeah?" she said.

"Let’s do it again."

We ran back, squealing and giggling as the water soaked us once more.

I saw my mom standing by the mailbox, watching us. I waved, hoping it wasn’t time to go in yet.

She waved back and smiled. Phew.

Niki and I continued bursting through the spray and shivering off to the side while we waited for our next turn. Niki noticed my mom, too. "Hey, Miz Green!" Mom smiled and slowly walked down the sidewalk until she was standing just outside the yard. "This sure is fun," Niki said. "You should try it."

I looked at Niki in disbelief. Was she kidding? I couldn’t imagine my mother running through the sprinkler. Not in a million years.

My mom didn’t say anything, just studied the water for a moment. Then she looked over at us, dripping on the grass with giant grins and chattering teeth. A half smile appeared, and she took off her shoes and watch, setting them neatly on the edge of the sidewalk.

I still wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Was my mom going to run through the sprinkler? My mom? In her clothes?

She stepped between Niki and me, picking up a hand from each of us and holding them firmly. "You’ll have to show me how," she said.

Niki grinned up at her. "On the count of three, run!"

And we did.

Five times we ran through the sprinkler together, laughing–at first in shock, and then in joy. My mom hugged me tightly before leaving and I could smell her hair spray, released into the air when the water hit it. "Thanks, girls," she said. "That was fun."

"It sure was, Miz Green."

As she picked up her things and headed back toward our house, I called out to her, "Don’t track the water inside!"

She laughed and waved, then Niki and I turned to make more bum prints on the drive.

In the beginning, Mom is looking through the mail. Then later she's at the mailbox. A little confusing. Otherwise, I liked the fun and enthusiasm of this story. I could picture it perfectly, since my own children have done that exact same thing, complete with bum prints.

What I liked best: The thrill of that first summer run through the sprinklers is captured well.

Magazine ready? Yes.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Although I'm not voting for this piece, I have to say the bum prints made me giggle. I like the slice of life element, too.

Weston Elliott said...

How darling! I vote for this one!