You wake up tired.
You can hear everyone down at the breakfast table already. No Sugar Pops for you today. Your two brothers will have already gulped down two bowlfuls. With seven kids, one box of good cereal like that only lasts one breakfast. You’ll be stuck with corn flakes. Again.
It’s already too hot outside. No breeze at all. No breeze last night, either. You got up and sat by the open window, hoping to feel something move. Nothing moved, except for the Illinois Central. You heard box cars clanking together, and then you went back to bed and tried to dream. You couldn’t.
Your mom calls you to hurry up and come down. You throw on shorts and T-shirt from yesterday. You scoot in at the table. You don’t talk to anyone. They have their own talking going on. Like who ate all the Sugar Pops and it’s not my turn to clear the table and can I ride my bike to the town pool.
We’ll see, your mom says, which means either no or ask again after her second cup of coffee.
You clear the table and look at the chore list on the refrigerator. You’ve got to watch Annie and Marikaye for an hour after lunch. Until then, you’ve got a free morning. Big deal. There’s nothing to do. Your best friend Jeanine is at the lake with her family. She wrote you a sunset postcard saying she learned how to water ski and her mom is letting her wear lip gloss. And write back soon, OK?
You started a letter to her last night on your special pink stationery, but you couldn’t think of anything much to write. Except you saw Steve Weigel in the Piggly Wiggly yesterday. You ducked down when he looked at you. Because what could you say to him? You were there with your mom and brother and three younger sisters. Better to act like you didn’t see him. Even though you think about him every night before you fall asleep.
“Are you all right?” your mom asks. You’re tying up your sisters’ shoelaces before taking them to the park.
“Yes,” you say. You don’t look at her. She doesn’t ask again.
You take your youngest sister’s hand | it’s small and soft and clings to your fingers like the string of a kite. She’s 2, and she’s the best thing going on in your life right now. In a block or two, she’ll say her legs feel tired. You’ll bend down so she can hop on your back.
Your other sister | she’s 5 | will say she wants a ride, too. You’ll carry her piggyback on the way home, you promise. But when the time comes, you won’t. She’ll pout for a minute or two and then skip on ahead of you. She doesn’t stay sad for long.
Unlike you who has been nothing but gloomy this summer. Last year, you sat in the sandbox with your sisters and created castles. You jumped on the swings and tried to get the toes of your blue Keds to touch the clouds.
Not this year. When your sisters ask you to help make sandcastles, you say you just want to watch. Same thing with swinging. You don’t mind pushing them, but you don’t want to swing yourself. Swings are for babies. And you’re not a baby.
What you are, you honestly don’t know. Other than hot. And lonely. Or something like that. You wish your best friend were home now. You wish you could wear lip gloss. You wish that Steve boy would come to the park. He won’t. He lives clear on the other side of town.
What you wish more than anything is that it would rain. Rain like it’s never rained before. Claps of thunder shaking the house. Bolts of lightning striking the ground. Wild winds whipping trees and blowing out every bit of this summer that’s making you feel so old.
The leaves on the elm tree start twirling. You hear rumbling in the distance. Maybe tonight a storm will come. You hope so much for that your heart aches.
Lorraine Lordi lives in Londonderry. To order the most recent collection of her favorite Derry News columns, visit www.plumriverpress.com.
You wake up tired.