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The Magical 60 Days of Summer This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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It was a warm summer evening, an evening just like any other, when we were running around John's yard, trying to catch fireflies, and Hutch called out to us. Now, we didn't know much yet, but one fact we knew, even in our youth, was that when John's father talked, we listened. The memory was so distant that it was as though I was remembering a dream, rather than something that actually happened. A calm, untroubled, peaceful dream that I woke up from feeling well-rested. What seemed like an ­average moment somehow stayed in the back of my mind.

The three of us were bounding around the tire swing, running up and jumping onto it, swinging until we tumbled off. Hutch walked over to us with an air of wisdom in his slow, ­deliberate movements.

“Hey, guys, I need to show you something,” he insisted, stopping the tire and guiding us to the dock. The water was glass, every once in a while rippling with the disturbance of a fish or frog. He stopped at the ledge and lifted me up, as the four of us peered out at the orange and pink sky. The sun was low,, and bright, the bottom just dipping into the horizon. I squinted, using my hand to shield the light. The water, the houses lining the lake, the serenity, the feeling of not being disturbed – there was no other sight I had seen in my seven years that could compare to this. It was just us. Hutch, John, my brother, Perry, and me, peering over the dock at the sunset, the last people on earth.

Hutch pointed to a small, metal grate on the dock and guided my feet to the spot. “Now stand right here and look at the position of the sun. See how it's right above that white house over there? By the end of the summer, the sun will be setting approximately over … there.” He moved his arm about a foot to the right until it was pointing to the edge of a small woodsy area. Although the contrast seemed small, it was a good 40 feet from where it was now disappearing.

I looked away from the brightly colored sky to Hutch's face, deep in calculation. I knew he had more to say. He always did.

“This change in the position of the sun setting will happen over 60 days. Now, you may have heard that summer is 90 days, three months long, but I'm telling you that's false. Although the mathematical amount of time you have for summer break might be that, the true days of summer are the ones when the sun sets from that white house to that bunch of trees. This time is called the magical 60 days of summer, and today is the first day.”

I stared at him in awe, smiling slightly, feeling like I had been let in on some amazing secret that only a select group knew.

“This may seem like a lot of time,” Hutch continued, “but in truth, it flashes by, and in no time, you're going to be standing in this very spot, watching the sun go down behind those trees, wondering where the time went. So use it wisely.”

Up until this moment, I had been soaking it all in, but I had to disagree with that last part. This summer would last forever. We had a whole lifetime stretching out before us. I silently vowed that that day would never come when the sun was setting behind the trees instead of the white house.

However, despite my most sincere wish, that day did come, like many after that. The years flew by, and I stood on that spot many times, watching the sun go down, wondering where the magical 60 days of summer had gone. But there even came a time when I stopped checking. As the leaves and the weather changed each year, so did I.

Warm summer nights and carefree days on the lake turned into slammed doors and faint headaches. Made up games and bike rides to the mini golf course turned bitter. I didn't go down to John's house as much, but even if I had, it wouldn't have mattered. The grate was removed, so we lost our ability to mark the sun's progress.

Hutch and John became more and more distant, staying away from the house for long times. Often when I rode my bike over, the car was gone and the doors bolted shut. It seemed they were always that way. The short road from our house to his seemed longer, drawing us apart.

So the magical 60 days of summer became contaminated with stress and conflict, a wrinkle in our once-blissful two months. Our faces hardened with the passing of five, ten years. It's true, what they say – you don't appreciate things until they're gone.

We had something, something ­special, in that little group by the dock. Something that not even time could sweep away. Yet, somehow, it's no longer. I wonder, sometimes, whether I truly took Hutch's advice and used my time wisely, because ­although I didn't know it at the time, his words were true. I had no idea of how quickly the years would zip by. Somewhere down the road, we made up our minds that lackadaisical swims and games of basketball would not suffice. Someone decided that the only way to be happy was in the constant grinding of effort, waking up at the crack of dawn and working until sundown, bruises and burns covering our calloused skin.

It's hard. Hard to remember a time when this skin was soft and supple, our minds calm and tranquil. Hard to remember the choices that brought us down this path. Hard to remember streaking through the yard after dark playing flashlight tag and catching fireflies. Hard to remember squinting on the edge of the dock, supported by sturdy hands, watching the sun sink behind the white house that symbolized the start of the ­glorious time.

Still, amidst the chaos and confusion that comes with growing up, I hope that there still comes a day when the four of us can once again return to the dock and watch the sun sink below the house, signaling the start of the magical 60 days of summer.

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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