The Tracks

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Dawn breaks on the first summer morning. House after house wakes up as light seeps through their open windows and onto dusty carpets. Yards are freshly cut, with dying daffodils next to stone walls and unborn bulbs sitting idly in dry soil. The morning heat settles into every nook and cranny, and the air smells like mowed grass and beach babies sunscreen. It’s fresh and familiar, like clean white cotton. Like pulling on a sweatshirt as the ocean winds wrap around your skin. It’s abstract, natural, takes you by surprise.

It’s the smell of June.

A girl is sitting with her back against a mailbox. There is makeup smudged under her eyes, and her hair has been pulled into messy braids. She pulls uncomfortably at the collar of her big white button-up, which folds unevenly around the nape of her neck and irritates the makings of a sunburn. She stretches like a cat on a windowsill, slowly tensing every muscle in her back and shuffling out onto the train tracks.

She counts the telephone poles as she goes past, digging the heels of her worn black boots into the stones that line the railroad. The only sounds are the comforting click-clack of rocks beating against each other. The sounds of summer, she thought to herself, a fresh sea-breeze on her tail.

The further she walks the denser foliage grows. Trees blot out the sun, vines and fresh blossoms crawl over stone walls. The familiar ringing of the train bells pushes her to the side of the tracks. She presses her back against a fence, snagging her tank top on splinters. She closes her eyes and leans her head against the rough wood as the train flies past. With a whoosh of acrid air she smiles as the force of its speed leaves the fence vibrating,

heart pounding,

fingertips tingling.

The woods thin and she finds herself at the empty train platform behind the antique store. She sighs as her own yellow house comes into view, dragging her feet up the driveway and to the lattice laced with pink roses. One foot after the other, she climbs to her window.

Breakfast simmers downstairs but she isn’t hungry. She smiles warmly at her parents and then flip flops out the door, following the path into town. All of her memories live timelessly on that route, the bad haircuts and baby fat, failed friendships and the ones that just won’t die. As the ghosts of summer follow her into town, she feels something new, something exciting, waiting just around the corner. Birds sing, cars rush.

And so, the summer of 2010 begins.





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