The smell of humid dryer-air as I bolted from the laundry room where my mother was folding clothes. The cool rasp of galvanized steel as I hung from the crossbar of the clothesline pipes.
The grinding quarter turn of my sneakered heel in the sandy grass that was home plate, midway through a fully wild swing at an innocent, floating softball. The leather laces of my baseball glove, wet and chewy in my mouth, vaguely hoping for a pop fly.
The not-quite-painful metal barb of bicycle pedals on bare feet as we raced around in circles with whirring tires on parched sidewalks. Straddling the bike with the front wheel clenched between my thighs and yanking the handlebars back into alignment.
We twirled in the late evening air with clear-skied stars streaking above us and cool, damp grass and earth beneath. We waited for the lunar eclipse and got dizzy in thickening blue twilight.
My face pressed against the screen-window’s mesh, feeling the breath of mid-day moving in and out in hot languid waves, watching for kids to come out and play. Picking grains of sand from my skinned knee striped fleshy white and blood red.
The electric buzz of a light outside the kitchen table window way past bedtime learning to play chess with my father.
The instant drying bake of July-roasted cement beside the public pool’s shallow end, and the wet shadows of our bodies melting outward, sending rivulets back into the water. We vanished in shimmering heat.
My head double-weighted, hair pulled taut, laying too far back in the swing as trees and clouds and planes at thirty thousand feet flipped back and forth in brazen defiance of physics and reason.
Released from the summer-school bus at the top of the hill on crackling dry August grass and hearing the folding doors swoomp shut behind me. The belly rumble of the diesel engine; a few remaining kids framed by rectangular windows. Not quite the last stop.
String cheese, turkey sandwich, cool grapes, Doritos. Cereal with milk and sugar. Bomb pops.
Watching traffic backed up outside the fairground’s main gate; short-sleeved policemen with their thumbs squarely into belt loops tucked. Sunburned men in tank tops and fanny packs and families with strollers of sleeping, shrieking children.
Climbed the sledding hill to a spot where through branches I could see and barely hear fireworks above a spinning sliver of the Ferris Wheel’s lights. The mad random jubilant chaos of the midway just after dark.
Dinnertime. The sun is down. On the scratchy blue carpet in my bedroom the backpack’s neatly packed; still short two notebooks and a protractor.
Crickets. The light is off. Fifth grade tomorrow and for the first time in memory I can’t fall asleep.
The last day of summer.