The summer visit starts with pure delight. The early days are marked with lake swimming, mountain air, fort building, and the blazing sun on our backs. After the initial excitement wears off, we settle into our daily chores: moving rocks, sweeping the porch, brushing the dog. Aunt Kimmie keeps us busy while she escapes into her daily soap opera.
Our days get longer as we search for ways to entertain ourselves.
“All you kids out the back door,” Kimmie directs, “and don’t come back until you have finished the whole watermelon.”
We aim the seeds at the cracks in the pavement, as we eat our weight in the red juicy fruit. Jason buries the remainder of his watermelon in the yard while Sean feeds his to the dog. We are learning their skills of deception.
In a naive attempt April tries to reason with my aunt.
“I will explode if I eat another bite.” she says. My aunt listens to her plea, gives a smile, then turns to go back into the house and shuts the door.
Defeated, we continue to disappear the red beast, one way or another.
In the evenings, dinner is an outdoor event. At the barbeque, uncle Jim grills up a feast. “I killed that chicken for you myself. You best eat it all,” he says with a stern face. I look up at him as he towers over me. My eyes are wide with fear and bewilderment. He cracks a smile, but I am not convinced. I catch a knowing glance from Jason before he returns to his food. I clean my plate.
My mom comes to collect us, marking the end of our summer stay. Sunburnt and bitten, we drive the car down the dusty road.
A sense of relief fills the air as we return to the coast-side. Home to where a blanket of fog shields us from the sun.
Spread out in the back seat, I sleep soundly the whole ride home.