First Summer by Aracely DuVent [Part I]

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“I wonder sometimes.
What would happen if the world ended tomorrow and I perished in my sleep? Pa always said when it was his time to go then it would be his time. He would not struggle, he would not fight. I find that hard to believe since he had to fight for everything his whole life. Maybe that would be good, then. He could finally relax and imagine this perfection he so strives for. I think if I were to die tomorrow, I would follow his advice. Something in me would tell me “it’s time, Aracely” and hopefully I had achieved everything I wanted to since then. And after I die? I am not sure what will happen. I believe in heaven, yes, but this life that I have now is so beautiful and breathtaking. Right outside my window is heaven. It is hard to imagine anything better than that.”

************


The sky’s robin blue was draped over my world like a loose sheet of satin. Shapely white clouds seemingly made out of ruffled muslin expanded and contrasted as they moved across the late dawn. I pushed open the window contently, feeling the curves of my mouth open to reveal a wide smile.

Morning was my favorite time of day by far... Eyes bathing in the rising light, the sweet, tingling feeling it gave on my skin.

My eyes flashed open as I breathed in the smell of cut-lawn and grain. The sky seemed flawless with the sun’s glow simmering in the horizon. It all gave a romantic look to the land, the same as it would in the beginning of a perfect fairytale.

Summer mornings. I spun on spot and grabbed onto the sill out of dizziness. The best by far.

Outside I could see the starting point to thousands of rows of cotton plants and beyond that near the mountains, purple liriope, budding saxifraga, spider-like mahonia and pastel hellebores. The wild assortment of plants and shrubs had all the colors a spoonful of jimmies captured. And just beyond that were tan rocky cliffs with uncoordinated edges and frightful descends. I admired the view for a moment more and then came back to the reality inside my room, right near the columns of cotton.

As a cross breeze gently blustered in, I turned to a mirror and began retying the ribbons that cinched the end of my braids. The ribbon was smooth to the touch, almost like mallows or cashmere and complimented the red shine of my hair. As I tugged the second blue bow and evened out the loops, I heard a thunderous voice calling my name.

“Coming, Pa!” I shouted over the grand piano down the hall. It was Chopin’s Minute Waltz, and while I was supposed to have memorized just the basic notes by last week, every note was being played now, and flawlessly at that. I bit my tongue and tip-toed as the piano became softer and softer and finally stopped. As the piano bench grated against the tiled floor, I dashed into a sprint until I was away from the hallway, down the spiral staircase and reaching across the kitchen counter towards a bag of freshly baked scones.

Five beety fingers lowered onto my hand and I jumped a little on spot. I could feel the heat of his body as he moved closer to me, white whiskers nearly unnoticeable in the dim light. The sun was starting to make its way through the blinds when he chortled. His squinty eyes were the precise shade that mine were, like a cat’s green. They were lit up and glowing.

“Slow down there, kiddo. If ‘e has patience, ‘e’ll wait.”

I couldn’t help but smile as I looked up at him, and then fidget slightly when the smell of warm blueberries and dough reached my inhale. My mouth watered.

“Thank you, but I’m late as is and as we both know, ‘e’s’ not getting any younger.” I mocked “e’s,” just the way he had before, aware it was not the accent of my Father, but the piano teacher, Vin, who was most likely impatiently waiting for me upstairs at that exact moment.

“Have you practiced at all this week, Aracely?” his brow arched to the shape of a crescent moon.
My teeth dug into my lip. “Dad-”

“Lacy?” his eyes twinkled. The sun was rising faster, rising up behind my back. It lit up his wrinkly face, his wistful smile. “Kiddo, it doesn’t matter much to me. ‘S long as you can make it when it counts most, I don’t need to know how long you practice every day.”

His eyes left mine and he grumbled something along the lines of, “Someone should start feeling a bit of relief.”

I turned on my Mary Jane heel to come locked and frozen, facing eye to eye with my Mother. Her narrow hips swayed from side to side as she walked. She was too thin and when her eyes fell to the sides of my head where the braids were, her tongue clucked once. Her fingers stretched open wide like a lioness claw and combed back her mousey waves. Under her wordless, critical gaze, I felt childish, like a fool. I couldn’t recall when I had thought my braids looked beautiful.

She reached over me to the scones and with a bony hand broke off an edge of a pastry. It sat in her palm like a dead thing and she treated it just so, swallowing bits in smaller clumps as if it were poison and she only wanted to take hourly doses. My father cleared his throat.

“It was your Mother playing Chow-pin, sweetheart-”

“Cho-pan.” my Mother annunciated, accent sharp and nearly vile.

“Chopin.” I repeated not a moment too soon, forcing my muscles to smile. “Thank you, Mother.”

Her eyes narrowed and continued to drill into mine.





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