A Single Summer Memory

I was sitting in a rocking chair in the kitchen. It was a Summer’s day. I was wearing a cream peasant top and a long denim skirt. My feet were bare and slid across the tiles as I rocked back and forth. I was eating an apple and reading The Virgin Suicides. I must have been fourteen or fifteen. The air outside buzzed gently with the sound of bees, the haze adding to the weight of it. Sunlight filtered through the cherry blossom in the front garden onto the kitchen floor.

I remember feeling very grown-up, reading something like The Virgin Suicides. I don’t even know where I got it from. I must have bought it myself, or maybe Aoife gave it to me. The apple core sat between my thumb and my forefinger, turning brown as the Lisbon sisters were turning the neighbourhood boys’ heads.

My mother must have had a day off. She came in to ask me to put out some washing. The sheets were cool and wet on my arms. I went out the back door to the patio and crossed the paving stones, barefoot, to the grass where the washing line was.

My mind wandered back to the Lisbon sisters: teenage girls with long blonde hair who were determined to die. When I think back on it now, it’s obvious to see where my fascination stemmed from. My teenage girl with her long blonde hair and that air of mystery, elation and sadness she had. It would be six more years before Alana went through with it, but even at fifteen the signs were there. The manic highs, the quiet lows, the cutting.

Sometimes a Summer memory is just that: a memory. Other times it’s an unbidden reminder of what’s gone. Youth, innocence, that denim skirt.

My best friend.


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