Endless Summer…

Summer is officially here. You can’t miss it in my neck of the woods. The air feels like it came through a furnace. So, to celebrate the beginning of summer and the temperature climbing up and over the 100ºƒ mark I decided to post a short piece of fiction, a very short piece, to get everyone in the mood.

Endless Summer

 

ENDLESS SUMMER
by
Bret Jordan

Quinn stood at the base of the tree, beside what had once been Palmer’s pond. He wasn’t sure if that was its official name, but it’s what he had always called it. Deep cracks made spider webs across its dry surface. Brittle brown water-grass stuck up around its edges. The carcasses of mummified fish lay piled at the lowest point. He sighed and thought of the numerous days he had sat at the bank and caught catfish by the cooler full. Those days were long over. The furnace air burned his throat.

A bead of sweat trickled down his forehead. He wiped it away with the back of his hand and looked up into the bare limbs of the tree. His skin burned red, blistered in some places. The sun blazed between the bare branches with no clouds to block its rays, no wind to cool the sweat on his brow.

A plank sat between a fork in the trunk. He thought back to the previous summer. A normal summer where he and Clay had sat on that plank with feet dangling in the air and talked about comic books, fishing and where they could explore next in the dense woods of Pineland, Texas. It was a summer that never ended.

Clay was gone. Most everyone was gone, claimed by the endless summer.

He reached for the canteen at his side. It sloshed as he lifted it, unscrewed the cap and brought it to his parched lips. He took a sip, a single thimble full. The half empty canteen was all he had, all he may ever have and he dare not waste a drop. He held the tepid water in his mouth as he screwed the cap back on, savoring it, wanting it to last. With closed eyes he swallowed. It teased his throat and he hungered for more.

Quinn’s mother had stopped moving that morning. He knew she was dead. Her open eyes stared at the wall. Her tongue swollen, filling her mouth. He recognized the symptoms. His dad died a few days ago. He had wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. His body wouldn’t let him cry for the dead any longer. It wouldn’t allow him to waste the water. He hadn’t peed in over a week. They had died for him, so that he could have the last of the water and maybe survive. He didn’t want to disappoint them, but he was afraid he might not have a choice.

With a final look at the pond he turned to the south, towards the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. His dad had driven there a few weeks ago looking for water. He hadn’t found any, but Quinn didn’t know what else to do. The wells had dried up weeks ago, and the condensate they had gathered from the air conditioning had quit putting forth its liquid manna even before the power had gone out. His dad had said that it was because there was no longer any moisture in the air. That hadn’t sounded good to Quinn, not good at all.

He tried not to dwell on his thirst as he walked through the forest. The leaves cracked beneath his feet like potato chips. The trees didn’t offer any shade. Their bare limbs cast a wicker shadows that offered no protection from the sun.

He hoped he would make it to the reservoir before nightfall. He hated being out in the open after dark. The silence made him feel lonely. Made him think too much about all the things he had lost since the summer began.

It wasn’t any way to spend Christmas Eve, not for a ten year old boy.

Shaylee: Druid's Daughter Shaylee: Druid’s Daughter, available at Amazon

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~ by bretjordan on June 3, 2011.

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