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The Last Summer of the Sour-Crawlers


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“Please wake-up baby, come on love just wake-up,” My eyes watered as mascara-coated lashes slowly peeled themselves apart. A soft white glow illuminated the walls of the room. The light came from an old TV where Gilligan’s Island had been paused mid-joke, their black and white faces frozen in shock. My eyes adjusted more until I could see the trees undulating softly outside the windows high on the concrete walls. Each movements cast imp-like shadows onto the walls, branches manipulating the faces on posters. The perfect smiles of numerous boy bands turn into Cheshire grins. Bed sheets slipped off my shoulders as I rolled over in a familiar feeling bed so I wouldn’t have to look at their creepy, twisted faces. I crinkled my nose when the rank stench of old weed reached me. The cold basement air sent shivers down my thin body, making me shake slightly as I tried to move toward faint warmth against my back.


“Sorry, I forgot the heat turns off around three,” a quiet voice mumbles into my hair before strong, slender arms wrap around my waist. I shake my head, “It’s fine, you’ll just have to keep me warm then.”

I could feel my hair move as Ember smiled against the back of my head. Her hand intertwined with mine while the other reached for the TV remote, Mary Ann and the Professor’s faces disappearing with a bright flash that left me with white stars dancing just out of arm’s reach.


“Another nightmare?” she inquired softly while the galaxy created in my eyes drifted away into the darkness of her room. I shrugged. I could feel her rest her chin on the top of my head. Ember rubbed her thumb in circles across the top of my hand before mumbling, “Do you just not remember it?” The gesture soothes my racing heart, which still beat like I was running from whatever monster-filled dream she awoke me from. “You were shaking and muttering a lot”


“Sorry,” I say before I can catch myself. It’s quiet for a second and then the screeching of bedsprings breaks the silence. Ember jumps off the bed and pulls me up with her, shushing the sounds of my sleepy protest with her pointer finger. The sound of her humming a three-four waltz fills up the silent basement. Her arms, refined by years of swimming, held me up even as my feet were dragging across the carpet.


“I want to go back to sleep,” I whined


“Too bad, you have to dance.”


I could hear the affectionate undertone even in her mocking voice before she wen’t back to humming. Blue Danube, Johann Strauss. Her favorite artist, aside from the Asteroid Galaxy Tour and Bitter:Sweet


“Little love,” she says softly after we danced for a good ten minutes, “I said it in the past, I say it now, and I will say it tomorrow, that you need not apologize for anything.” All I could see where her light hazel eyes in a sharp strip of light from a streetlamp outside. The intensity at which she looked at me made me try to look away, but Ember softly grabbed my face between her hands. “Unless you kill my dog, then you need to apologize.” We both grinned at each other and I nodded.


“I’m trying.” I say to her as we settle back onto the worn-out bed.

“I know,” she replies while gently rubbing my shoulder. “It’s just that there isn’t much in this world worth an apology from a sweet thing like you.” The cool air soothes my burning face as I lay to rest with the compliment ringing in my ears. Ember’s breathing soon slowed to that of one deep in sleep. The sound reminded me of the ocean. Each breath lulled me deeper into my own sleep. This time, however, there were no monsters waiting to chase me through nightmares but Ember with her pixie-laugh to light my way through the dark.




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