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Vampire Boys Of Summer (revamped) Ep. 42

Vampire Boys Of Summer

42: Fast Road Home

 

“Is it true?” I asked, after we’d driven a few minutes.

“Is what true?”

“Did your people come here to build a colony?”

“No, it’s not true.”

“Then, why are you here? Why did your family settle here of all places? There’s nothing here.”

He looked at me and smiled. “You’re here.”

“You didn’t come here for me.”

“When vampires hit the headlines, it hardly goes unnoticed. My uncles spotted a news article about your dad and his case. It mentioned the fact he attacked the clerk because he was a vampire. Of course, the news article made him seem crazy, but well, we were traveling, looking for someone we’d lost, and thought we might want to check it out. See if it was true.”

I turned my head and looked out the window. “So, you bringing me today wasn’t about you being sweet and nice to me, was it? You weren’t being a good boyfriend. You offered to drive because I could take you to my dad.”

I heard his soft sigh. “I wanted to help you. But yes, I wanted to see your dad for myself. To see if he was a danger to us.”

I turned to face him. Tears were threatening my eyes. “You tricked me, Haru.”

“It’s not like that, Nora.”

“Then tell me what it’s like. All this time you have been nice to me. All the sweet things you say, us getting close, me falling for you…it’s all been make believe for you. You have been using me.”

We stopped at a red light and he turned to look at me. “There is no make believe. I haven’t been using you or tricking you. Everything I feel for you is real, Nora.”

I didn’t know if I could believe that or not. I was beginning to feel like a pawn on a chessboard. Vampires just don’t show up in your hometown for no reason. All the things I thought were just coincidence or random, blind luck or faith, now appeared to have been planned. Had Haru’s uncles compelled him to become friends with me in order to find my dad and talk to him? Was Ryo the backup in case I didn’t go for Haru? And what about Chi and Luhan? Were they further assurance the vampires got what they wanted?

“What is it you want from me, Haru? I thought it was me.”

He pulled the car off to the side of the road and threw the gear in park. He turned to me. His eyes were red and tired. His face pale and sweating. “It is you, Nora. We aren’t concerned with your dad. After we got here, we figured out no one believed him. There was no danger to us. But there wasn’t any sense in moving in one day and moving out the next.”

“So what, you decided to put the make on a local girl to kill some time, then? A girl nobody else liked or gave a damn about? Am I that easy to you?” There was no stopping the tears now. I felt them running down my cheek.

He reached up and let them run onto his finger. “No, you’re not that easy, nor am I just killing time. From the moment I saw you watching me from your window, I wanted to know you. Even from the distance of our two yards I saw the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, and yet her eyes were more haunted than my own. I wanted to know you. I wanted to know everything about you. Me getting close to you has nothing to do with your dad, vampires, or anything. I just thought maybe, this was it, I’d found the someone to …to be with after all these years.” He took me into his arms and held me. My tears fell onto his shoulder. He cut the car off, and even though the sun was coming out brighter, I felt like he was enduring the discomfort for me. I could feel the heat coming through the window, and I knew he must feel it worse.

“I’m sorry, Haru. I didn’t mean…I just need to know if this is real or not. All my life I have been picked on, bullied, made fun of, and I don’t want to be taken for a fool anymore.”

I could feel his smile as his face pressed against my cheek. “The only fool is me,” he said. Before I could wonder what he meant, he tensed, and I caught a scent of something burning. I pulled away from him and saw that the skin on one of his hands seemed to be wilting. It wasn’t like in the movies where the vampire’s skin smolders and catches fire; it was more like a flower wilting before your eyes.

“Oh, my god,” I whispered. I had this horrible vision of centuries of aging catching up to him all at once. “Haru, we have to get you out of the sun. Why didn’t you tell me it was this bad? Do you have a blanket or anything?”

“In the trunk,” he said.

I grabbed the keys from the ignition and jumped out of the car. I ran around to the trunk and popped it open. There wasn’t much in there. A spare tire iron, bottles of oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid. And the blankets. I snatched them up and ran around to the drivers aside.

“Move over,” I commanded. With his help, I managed to maneuver him over the gear shift and into the passenger side seat. I got in behind the wheel and laid the blankets over Haru. He was starting to slump down in the seat. He lay his head over in my lap as I restarted the car and put it into gear.

I’d had plenty of simulations and driving instruction in school, so it wasn’t like driving was an alien concept, but trying to drive while a boy’s head is in your lap is not the easiest thing to do. It’s even worse when that said boy just might be dying before your very eyes.

Haru’s body was wracked by shivering as we sped down the road. I held my own with the driving. I knew I was going over the speed limit. But I was focused. Intent on getting us home safely, I prayed the whole way. I believe in God, and though I wasn’t sure where vampires stood in the spiritual scheme of things, I was hoping that heaven would allow me to save Haru.

“Hold on, baby,” I heard myself say, and took a curve much faster than I should. The back tires slid a little and squealed, but I righted the car and drove on. We passed a sign for Chelsea Valley and I smiled a little. We were going to make it. “Almost there,” I said to reassure him and myself both.

The ‘almost there’ was a little further than I thought, and I put my hand on Haru’s head, stroking his hair with my fingers in gentle motions. The road twisted and turned, winding and curving its way to home, and we drove the rest of the way in silence. The only sound was my steady heartbeat and Haru’s ragged breathing. By the time we reached the town limits, I was almost to the point where I would offer myself to him and risk death rather than lose him. But the burning smell had dissipated and it seemed the blankets were helping to protect him. He was still shivering and cold, though. He would shudder, and his head in my lap would shake from side to side as if cold chills were wracking his very brain.

I did my best to soothe him, but I was at a loss at what to do once we got home. Did I drag him inside his house? Get Ryo from across the street to help? Or do I take him to my bedroom and try to nurse him back with my own blood? I knew, no matter his condition, he wouldn’t allow the latter to happen. So it was either his house, hoping someone was there to save him, or Ryo. I chose Ryo.

Ep. 43

Vampire Boys Of Summer (Re-vamped) Main Page

“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D. Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

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Vampire Boys Of Summer (revamped) Ep. 5

 

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5: Puzzle Freak

The first thing I noticed as I stepped from my yard into theirs was the absence of noise. It was like I had stepped into a vacuum, where even sound was afraid of being this close to vampires. I couldn’t hear the light breeze through the trees, though I could see them swaying. No birds, no creature made a sound on this property, and I have to admit it made me a little nervous.

Still, I went up the front porch steps and raised my hand to knock. I hesitated, wondering what I thought I was doing. I had just gotten home from school. What little make up I started the day off with was now gone, my hair was a mess, and I was in jeans and t-shirt; not exactly following the ‘how to meet hot guys’ guidelines. I shrugged and knocked anyway. For a moment it didn’t make a sound, and I thought maybe I should just give this up, but then I heard the noise of my knuckles rapping the door. No matter that it came about thirty seconds after I actually knocked. I listened close, hoping to hear footsteps or a voice telling me, “wait a minute, I’m coming.” Anything to tell me there were no vampires here; that I had been wrong. But no one came. I debated whether to knock louder, and in the end I decided to try the door handle myself.

I put my hand on the door and it was ice cold. Perhaps the AC was running overtime in there, but I didn’t think so. There were no window units and I didn’t see central air units outside anywhere. I tried the knob but it was locked. I decided to go around back, maybe knock there.

The backyard was spacious with a concrete patio and in-ground pool. A row of hedges lined a back fence that separated our properties, but the shrubs were barren, and sure enough I could see mom lying out in her bikini in our back yard. I could tell by the rise and fall of her breasts that she had fallen asleep as usual. Part of me wanted to scream her name just to see how drunk she was, but before I could I saw I wasn’t alone on this side of the hedge. A man was sitting at a glass topped table on the patio working a jigsaw puzzle. A large umbrella was mounted in the center of the table, shielding him from the bulk of the sun’s rays. He didn’t seem to notice me at first, but when he did, his head came up so slow it made me think of those old automaton gypsy fortune telling machines they had at the fair when I was like nine. He stared at me with a curious look, his eyes dark and intense, half hidden by stringy black hair that hung down in his face. He tilted his head one way and then the other, before beckoning me to him. My head was screaming not to do it, but something bolder inside made me approach his table. He held up a puzzle piece and handed it towards me as if he wanted me to place it for him. His smooth pale skin made him seem almost unnatural, and I hesitated. With an impatient jerk of his hand he shoved the piece at me. I took it from him and looked down at the puzzle he was working on.

It was bizarre, like something out of a nightmare. The unfinished image clearly suggested a view of hell, with writhing, tormented bodies, some entwined in reckless abandon, others twisting in the talons of demonic figures. At the center, a tall dark presence drank the blood of several people at once, all of them held fast in his gaze and grip. Where the puzzle piece was missing there was a young girl about the same age as myself . Her body was turned towards the terrifying figure, and she must have been looking up at him rapturously, but she didn’t have a head. It was the missing piece.

I looked in my hand and turned it over. Sure enough, the piece I held was the girl’s head, and looking at it I saw in her eyes a look of adoration and helplessness. I looked at the man behind the card table. His Asian eyes held no malice, but something within told me this guy did not wish good things to befall me. A slight sneer crossed his thin lips. His mouth began to open. He made a sound in his throat but it wasn’t speech. It was a guttural kind of moan and his lips seemed to curl back to show me the only teeth he had were two pairs of fangs. His sneer turned into the scariest smile I had ever seen. I dropped the puzzle piece and bolted.

I ran across the yard and to my front door as if the devil were on my heels. I didn’t even bother with my book bag. I slammed the door behind me and threw the deadlock in place. I kept waiting to hear the man’s body slam into the solid oak of the doorframe, but he never did. I wasn’t even sure if he got up from the table. I didn’t care to look back. I’d been too freaked out.

I went through the dining room towards the back of the house. Looking out onto our patio, I saw mom was still sleeping one off. The guy next door was nowhere to be seen, but his macabre puzzle was still on the table. Thinking he was on his way over, I ran upstairs and locked myself in my room; my dad’s vampire kit laid out and open on the bed. If anyone came through that door they were going to get hit with a one two punch of holy water and wooden stake. But no one came. I sat on the bed as the night began to fall. I heard mom come in and rumble around in the kitchen. I wasn’t sure if she was fixing dinner or a new drink, but I wasn’t about to come out my room to find out. I was waiting for pitch dark so I could go stake that puzzle working, blood sucking freak.

Continue Reading: Episode 6

“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D. Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Orchard House Part 25: Summer Daydream

Orchard House: Daily Serial Novel

Part 25: Summer Daydream

The ride back to the store was just as lazy as drifting down the peaceful river. Everyone was tired from being out in the sun and all the adventure of the rapids. We looked to be the only ones who fell in though, and all the kids wanted to hear about it. This time, I was allowed to ride in the back of the truck with Summer. Apparently one of the kid’s parents had been at the pick-up spot to get him, giving us more room. Danny seemed glad to be rid of me anyway. He didn’t look too pleased that we had shown up late after the rest of the group. When he saw our disheveled state, he knew we had taken a dunk. He just shook his head as if to say, ‘I told you so.’ Summer laid her head over on my shoulder and nearly fell asleep as we went down the bumpy dirt road. When we got to the store, I nudged her a little, and she raised her head with a smile saying, “Oh hi daddy,” with a mischievous grin. Several of the boys in the back with us, looked at each other, raising eyebrows, which caused Summer to break into a laugh. As we got out of the truck, she said goodbye to some of the girls, and I walked up to the cab to thank Danny.

“Hey thanks,” I said, “That was lots of fun. Wasn’t what I expected, but that’s what makes it exciting.”

He smiled and held his hand out. “You be sure and tell your friends. As we hit our summer stride, we’ll be making more trips and we have some overnight tube adventures planned, too.”

I shook his hand and wondered why he was being courteous and nice, until I looked behind and noticed Summer was there. She squeezed by me to thank the guy, too.

He grinned a little bit wider shaking her hand. “We had fun,” she said. “Too bad you missed our rapid ride.”

“I would have come little miss, but from the looks of you, it does look like it was fun.” He then pressed something into her hand. It looked like a piece of paper. “If you want to have fun again, just give me a call and we’ll make time to come get you.”

She looked at the paper. It had his phone number written on it. I gave him a look that said, ‘man, you got nerve,’ and he put on his best smile for her. I imagined it made the local college girls melt, but looking over at Summer, she seemed unaffected. “Will do,” she told him in a gracious manner, shoving the number into her jeans pocket. “Come, sugar daddy,” she said to me with a wink, and led me away from the truck and into the store. I felt his eyes on us the whole way and was glad that was the last time he would stare at Summer’s backside.

We bought a couple of sodas in the store. Helen was still there, though Raymond had gone out in the fields to see how his workers were doing. Twyla was at her booth in the back, and when she saw us she waved and offered us some of her prize lemonade on the house. We accepted her offer and gulped it down as if we hadn’t had anything to drink all day. After being out in the sun and on the river, it was like liquid heaven. Twyla reached up and held Summer’s hand like most little girls do when there’s an older one around to look up to. Summer smiled at her and told her she made the best lemonade she ever tasted.

While Summer and Twyla bonded like long lost sisters, I picked up a few things from the store’s frozen case. They had some packaged hamburger, so I grabbed a roll of it and got some buns, fresh lettuce, and tomatoes to fix us up some dinner later. I remembered seeing a gas grill on the back porch of Orchard House, so as long as it worked, we could have a little cookout for two. .

With grocery bags and sodas in hand, we walked through the orchard back up to the house. We didn’t hold hands this time, but if I’d had a free hand I would have asked her if I could.

“My, what a day. I’m going to need a bath to wash this river off of me,” Summer said.

“Yeah, I know. Don’t use all the hot water,” I teased. “I’ll need one, too.”

“I might save you a little,” she laughed. “What’s in the bags?”

She had been busy with Twyla in the store, and so hadn’t seen my loot. “Well I had ten dollars left from our tubing adventure, so I thought we’d try and cook out. “

She clapped her hands. “Great! I haven’t cooked out in ages. Today is becoming a day of firsts and long time since I have done that moments.”

I smiled and nodded. “Yes it has.”

As we neared the house, Jackson came out to meet us, wagging his tail and drooling all over us. Summer patted him on the head and he sat on his haunches at her feet. “I’m going to miss you, Jacks,” she said. Then she looked at me as if she might same the very same thing, but she looked away before the words could come out. I knew she didn’t want to think about it, and neither did I. The subject would have to be broached soon enough, just not now.

Inside the house, I put up the groceries while she disappeared into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. I heard her turn on the bath water, and for a moment imagined her shedding her clothes for the tub. Embarrassed, I shook this thought out of my head and left the kitchen for the hallway and my room. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I wondered how I was going to handle this, how I was going to sit here this time tomorrow with a great big hole in my soul. Part of me was thinking this was going to be just like the emptiness Ashley caused when she decided she couldn’t pretend any more. Forget Ashley, I berated myself. This is nothing like that. Ashley left because she felt nothing at all for you. Summer is leaving because..because..well, you don’t know why, but it’s not because she doesn’t want to be with you. Or perhaps it is. Perhaps Summer just had to keep moving. Maybe staying still wasn’t the life for her either.

I picked up the cellphone from the desk. No calls or voicemails. I really should call Eric, I thought. At least tell him where I was. Yes I should, but not tonight. Tomorrow maybe. Tonight I was going to enjoy the time I had left with Summer. Who knows what tomorrow would even bring? Maybe she wouldn’t go. Maybe I could talk her into staying. Maybe…life is a bunch of maybes, and every one up to this point had turned into nevers. It was best I didn’t think about it. I closed my eyes, not trying to dwell on anything, just trying to relax, and she came into my room. Not really; it was all in my head, but I could see her coming in, lean body wrapped in her towel, her hair in a bun on her head, also wrapped up in a towel. She would say my name, and then she would fall into my arms, kisses cascading down on me like rain. She would take me into her towel, her still wet skin soft and warm against me…

“Mathew..”

I came out of my reverie in record time. Ashamed and embarrassed over my thoughts, I turned red as a sheet, wanting to apologize to her for thinking such thoughts, but then I stopped. She was wrapped in a towel, bath water still dripping on the floor as she stood in the bedroom doorway. Her dark hair was wrapped up in another towel and I thought how close this was to my daydream. All except she wasn’t falling into my arms or raining kisses on me. She was just looking at me concerned.

“Are you okay? You look flushed.”

“No, I’m okay. I’m Sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

I couldn’t tell her what I was sorry for. Here I was having similar thoughts as the typical male would with a guest of a girl staying with him. Priding myself on being different, I chided myself for having such fantasies. I couldn’t tell her how I was feeling in that instant. I was angry at myself, feeling that in my mind at least I was betraying her trust.

“Nothing,” I replied. “Sorry for..um daydreaming.”

She smiled. “It’s okay; I do that a lot myself. The bath is ready for you if you want to take yours now.”

“Okay thanks.”

“I’ll be back down in a little bit,” she said, and turned to go up the stairs to her room. I couldn’t help but watch her as she walked away. I hadn’t watched a woman so much since…well since never. Summer was nothing short of captivating, and if she had turned and said to me in that moment, ‘you want to come up,’ I would have reached the top of the stairs before her. I shook my head, thinking myself silly, and went to take my bath.

Part 26: Cookout For Two

“Orchard House & The Heart Of Everything” 2016 Paul D Aronson.

Orchard House Part 24: Fade Into You

Orchard House: Daily Serial Novel

Part 24: Fade Into You

If going tubing was spontaneous and out of character for Summer, then it was full blown unheard of for me. As a kid, I had friends who had been river tubing while on trips to their grandparents, or over summer vacation, but I had never done anything like this. It’s funny, for it’s such a simple thing, and as I discovered, a lazy pleasure. While some go fishing, and others play golf, tubing is the easy life, and if you’re with a woman both beautiful to look at and wonderful to know, it makes tubing one of life’s most poignant pleasures.We drifted down river, the rest of the group slightly ahead of us, as we had a larger tube that made it slower going. We didn’t mind though. It gave us time to enjoy ourselves and spend our last day together. I was very aware and saddened by this fact. At some time tomorrow, Summer would be gone and I would be left on my own again. Ever since I had arrived at Orchard House, she was there. It was going to be so empty without her. Drifting along on the water, I had to push this to the back of my mind, but I was already missing her.

She seemed to know where my thoughts were. “So, what you going to do after this?” she asked.

“I haven’t the slightest clue.”

“I think you should write again.”

“I don’t think I have anything left in me to say.”

“Sure you do. You got that music nerd thing going. Chase that dream.”

“I already tried it once,“ I said. I kicked at the water with my feet, and it caused our tube to turn and go into a lazy spin.

“Chase it from a different angle. Get on the net and do a blog, or start your own music mag and work for yourself. “

“I don’t know, Summer.”

Her face lit up as she had another idea. “You could always write a book.”

“I did that once and failed. I mean, what would I write about now to make it any different?”

“Write what you feel.”

I laughed. “If I did that no one would read it.”

She smiled and gave me this knowing look. “I would,” she said.

“You’re biased.”

“I guess I am.”

She stretched out on the tube. Lying on her back with her legs dangling in the water, she looked like Venus lounging at Vesuvius, or a mermaid waiting on a rock ready to sink a ship or two. No wonder every guy looked at her. I don’t think she saw it, but she had a beauty that was natural and poured forth from her like rays of sunshine. While most women her age were fully entrenched in the world of makeup and designer fashions, she didn’t need any of that. Though she was gorgeous relaxing in her tight formed shorts and revealing bikini top, she could have been clothed head to foot in burlap and still been as beautiful.

Once again, she seemed to know what I was thinking. Of course, this time it was easy to tell because I was staring at her so much.

“Did you mean what you said to Earl today?”

I noticed she didn’t call him dad. “Yeah, about the world not wanting him anymore. You know what I meant by that right. I meant that you…”

“No, about me being beautiful.”

I looked over at her, which as always, was very difficult for me to do. Even more so because she was asking me something like that. Her dark brown eyes held me captive in that moment, and it was like being made to drink truth serum. I knew if I looked in her eyes long enough, I would spill every secret, every hidden emotion within me.

“Yes,” I replied. “I meant it.”

She smiled. “Thanks. That means the world to me.” She broke eye contact and looked away, staring off into the trees that lined the river bank. “You’re the first guy…man.. to ever say that without pretension…without wanting something more than to let me know.” She shook her head. “Sometimes a girl wants to be admired and thought of as pretty without a guy’s paws all over her.”

“I would never paw you,” I confessed.

“I know you wouldn’t. That’s what’s so amazing about you. You look like the kind of guy to ask permission first.”

I swallowed hard, wondering what she was trying to do to me. Did she want me to ask her something or was she just testing me? “I would,” I agreed, and left it at that.

She turned again to look at me. She was lying on her side on the tube, one hand resting lightly on her hip, the other propping her head up and helping to balance herself. “You held my hand in the orchard. That was nice. But you haven’t since. Why?”

“I..I don’t know. I guess I don’t want you to think something or…”

She smiled, and it made her eyes almost glow in afternoon sun. “Make me think something, Matthew,” she breathed softly.

“Oh…okay.” But what was I supposed to make her think? I couldn’t tell her what was going on inside my head, because I wasn’t sure myself. I couldn’t tell her that the nervousness I felt around her was because she was so beautiful, and no one like her ever paid me no mind before, much less lavished their attention on me. I couldn’t tell her about the butterflies in my stomach, or even how Ashley never once made me feel so important as she does. All Ashley did was… stop it, I told myself; this is Summer here before you, a girl you are finding yourself…

Summer sighed and slid across to my side of the inner tube until she was right next to me. “Can I lay my head on your shoulder?” she asked.

“Yes,” I answered.

She laid her head over until I felt her cheek against my shoulder. She put her hand flat against my chest. I knew she would be able to feel my racing heartbeat. There was no way to hide it. To calm myself, I put my arm around her and held her close. She snuggled tighter against me and the lazy river carried us on.

“Tell me a poem,” she said.

“I don’t know any.”

“You’re a writer, make one up.”

“It’s not that easy,“ I protested. There was a silence between us for a moment, and I knew this was something important to her. “But I will try.”

I could feel her smile against my shoulder. “I don’t want a dark poem. Nothing depressing or sad. Make it pretty.”

“I’ll try. But bear with me; I’m not very good at instant poetry.”

I looked down at her. Face against my shoulder, her neck lay exposed, giving way to the shape of her shoulders, down the curve of her body as it was nestled against me. One leg dangled down in the river, the other stretched out on the tube, which was soaking up the warmth of the sun and passing it on to our skin. Admiring her like this, I took a deep breath, for it had come to me now, the poem that only she could bring forth from my soul.

“If I could just fade into you

See the world as you do,

I’d float away into thy soul,

Leaving behind a world so cold;

To go down in the depths of thee

Hoping you’d just cradle me

To lift me up and touch the sun

Until we two become just one,

For then I’d see the world as you do

If I could just fade into you…”

For a moment there was silence. I could feel her breathing against me, and for a moment I thought I felt something wet on my shoulder. Probably just the light spray of the river as we rolled down its surface. Then she lifted her head and looked at me with eyes that I could see were brimmed with tears. “Wow,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

“Neither was I,” I admitted.

“When I was a little girl, I always wanted a boy to write me a poem. It took quite a few years, but I think I just got my wish.”

I smiled. “So did I.”

She smiled. “And what was your wish?”

“To write a poem for a pretty girl I was crazy about.”

“How crazy?”

I looked ahead of us on the river. There was a commotion up ahead, though the other tubes had disappeared around an approaching bend. “Very,” I nervously replied, now seeing what was going on ahead of us. Danny had lied to me. There were some rapids on this river and it was right in front of us. “Hang on,” I said, and Summer must have heard the fear in my voice, for she finally looked up to see and she let out a squeal of delight.

“Awesome!”

The tender moment was forgotten, and her youth and exuberance took over, as she grabbed both me and the tube. I tried my best to hang on, as the river started into a slight descent of tumbling water and rolling foam.

Summer let out an excited yell, right in my ear, and we rolled over rocks on the rough ride down the rapids. I could feel the stones of the river rubbing against the underside of the tube and I thought to myself it’s going to puncture our float. The ride got rougher, and I wrapped one arm around her and clutched the tube under me with the other. She rolled over on top of me, wrapping her arms around both me and the tube. She was pressed against me so tight, her cheek lying against mine, her ear right at my lips. They lightly touched her lobe, and in the terror of knowing we could very well drown in this river or go over a massive waterfall to our doom, I kissed her ear. She let out a gasp as the tube capsized, sending us both into the river.

One fear I’d always had as a kid was drowning. I know it’s quite common, but it doesn’t feel that way when you are under the water and sucking it all into your throat. I came up gagging, thrashing my arms around. I felt myself go over a rock, and its rough surface scraped my leg. I caught sight of Summer, but she was ahead of me and too far to reach. I tried to call out and went under again. When I came up for air, she was closer, trying to fight the flow to come back to me. She must have seen I was in trouble. The tube was getting too far away from us, and now it was a choice for her on whether to grab me or go for the tube. She seemed to hesitate, and then went for the tube. The water ran over my head and when I returned to the surface, she had managed to grab the tube and was now holding her arm out in my path. As the river threatened to carry me right by her, her hand grabbed mine, and with a burst of surprising strength, slung me around to the tube, which I grabbed, wrapping both my arms around it and clinging on for life. We rode the rest of the rapids this way until the river leveled off and grew calm and lazy again.

We hoisted ourselves back up on the tire, positioning ourselves on opposite sides to keep it balanced and afloat. “You okay?” Summer asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” I said. “What about you?”

She took a breath. “Yeah I’m fine. I don’t think the tube got punctured on the rocks, so we should be good.”

“The rocks caught my legs a little,” I said, and I saw her survey the damage from her vantage point.

“Yeah they did,” she noted. “We’ll get them cleaned up at the pick-up spot.”

I nodded. “It’s not too bad, just stings a little. Thanks for saving me.”

She giggled. “I didn’t save you. Just helped you get back to the tube.”

“Well, whatever you want to call it, thank you.”

“You would do the same for me,” she replied.

“Yeah I would.” I laid my head back on the inner tube and closed my eyes. I had to admit this was nice, despite our bout in the rapids without a tube. Looking over at Summer, still dripping wet from the river, I smiled. “This has been so nice with you,” I said.

She was lying back on the tube in the same fashion and she turned her head to look at me. “Yes, it has been such an exciting day. I don’t think I will forget this for a very long time.”

“Neither will I.” I reached my hand across the space between us. She took it and held it in her own. This was the way we arrived at the pick-up spot a few minutes after everyone else, lying on the tube, drying in the sun, holding hands and smiling at each other like two kids feeling something they had never felt before, those first pangs of affection that given time, blossom to love.

Part 25: Summer Daydream

“Orchard House & The Heart Of Everything” 2016 Paul D Aronson.

She Smiles

“She Smiles”

She smiles and it’s beautiful

The warmth that spreads across her face

Filling her cheeks with color

Her eyes with sparkling diamonds of love

The luminescent glow overtakes her

Spreading outward from her face and form

To affect everyone who chances upon her

And the world seems likes such a better place

As if hope has been released from her prison

To dance with sister faith down every lane

To every soul, every heart that dreams

I pass her by on a late summer’s day

The light from her eyes catching my own

And suddenly I am changed in an instant

Nevermore weighed down by sadness

Or burdened by shame’s infectious sorrow

But liberated and let go from the darkness

To stand in her light without shadow

To watch her dreams wash all over me

Bathing me in something new I’ve not felt before

For you see, she smiles and it’s beautiful

And I am beautiful

Just by being this close to love
Poem and photograph by Paul D Aronson.

Model: Heather Aronson. 

Carnival Of The Clouds

“Carnival Of The Clouds”

Across the sky they dance,
Music box ballerinas
And carousel horses
On the way to the carnival
Of the clouds.

A pride of plush toy lions
And Nutcracker soldiers
March ‘cross the silver lining,
To join in the parade
Of billowing shapes.

A young child applauds
And they all bow,
As they silently prance by,
Just passing through
On a summer’s day.

By Paul D Aronson. 2002. All Rights Reserved.