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This Morning I Loved A Child This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The heat frightens me, suffocates me, destroys my faith in the mercy of mankind. It treats my soul with utter disregard, stomping upon me and putting me ruthlessly in my place. It can ferret out my cowering, melting mass of skin and sweat as I read the Sunday morning comics in the kitchen, my terrycloth bathrobe wound gently around my hips. Summer despises my very existence. She wraps around my neck and squeezes out my breath, until I fall, gasping, to my knees, to beg forgiveness for my sins. The colors that I love, the raincoat yellows and midnight reds, fade in the sweat and moisture of Summer's hate. redyelloworangebrown.

And Autumn rescues me. One morning, she kisses me with tiny winds, dances 'round my neck, encircles my waist and draws me slowly away. Summer and I, her rescued captive, scarcely notice, until suddenly, Summer is vanquished, and I am breathing easily in the clear, straightforward chill of Fall.

I didn't buy shorts at the end of the school year last June. Usually, I go with some friend, whoever loves me at the moment, and we storm a discount store. I moan at a pair of grey shorts, invariably too much, the ones that fit and make my butt look squeezable, and try them on three times. Each time, I decide to buy them, and decide they're worth the price, and each time I remember how many people you can feed with that. Finally, they're put back as I take the yellow ones for less. And, as I leave, the grey ones are calling my name, and no one is any the less hungry for my sacrifice.

This summer I did not buy shorts. Instead, I opened a drawer most mornings looking for a pair of shorts from last year. And, if the only ones not in the laundry were the yellow ones with the sap stain in back, and various pairs of men's boxer shorts with the crotch sewn up, I turned and sacrificed a pair of jeans. So, by the end of this summer, I had four pairs of cutoff jeans, and only two whole pairs of pants left.

This year summer hit me full force. It rammed me in the stomach, and sent me rolling down a hill, till I crashed at the bottom, staring up at the school, with Autumn gently encouraging me from behind. I ran, and played in the water in cutoff jeans and a T-shirt, and yo-yoed while waiting for buses, and blew bubbles outside in the rain while wearing my big yellow raincoat that makes me look like a duck. I hid from the heat under bandana and trees, tried to escape the summer in ice cream and love. And, suddenly, Autumn was there to rescue me, school to kidnap me home.

The heat followed me to school, as I wore my cutoff jeans and gasped for breath. I learned again the meaning of homework, tests, life and class notes. I sweated away my deodorant while trying to introduce myself to a woman I'd never met before, in a language they swear I'd learned before. The heat didn't leave when I stopped playing, and I hated it all the more for winning, for staying when its time was long gone.

Then, without warning or opening ceremony, the chill began to hold me, to welcome me into her embrace each morning, and sing me to bed each night. It stopped by in math class to kiss me and remind me that it was there. It held me as I walked to school, pulling me along while telling me it loved me. It whispered about ancient alliances in history, told me the formulas in chemistry, explained how to tell my lover my new name in necessity. The cold began and took its rightful place.

Today, I looked out the window in Spanish class, beyond the foolish heads trying to learn how to spell words they would never write. I looked over worthless fields of sweatshirted gym students into the waiting trees beyond. And there they were. Not melted, not sweating, running, mixed or faded. Just bright, simple, loving, trusting.

Red. Yellow. Orange. Brown.

Today, in Spanish class, the leaves changed color. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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