Saltwater splattering on feverish skin, harder than willful cooking spray on a rusty stovetop when all you wanted was a fried egg. Sand teeming with Newport butts and nickels brittle with green and time, assaulting your cheeks and ears with chatty nonsense, when all you wanted was a murmur of passing roller skates on a Saturday afternoon. Fading declarations of “You’re probably fine, but if you’d like to go home and rest, we’ll leave” pelt down in disjointed staccato as the ghost of you watches Real You toss your Sweet Valley High book and untouched turkey on rye, all mayonnaise now, into the tote you’re sharing with your parents because you’re teetering on the scale between sloth and self-reliance – the barometer now apologetically tipping towards the former. You squeeze your sunburned feet, inflated from the joust between mosquito bites and freshly festering illness, into your aqua jelly shoes for the fifteen-mile trudge back to the cottage.
“If you don’t get the chicken pox now, you will eventually. You might as well get it over with.” You can’t wear white hoop earrings without first enduring the pain of getting your ears pierced. Now you can go to the sleepover party and not get sick. But last night’s toasted raviolis from Giordano’s shoot up your esophagus quicker than ocean water from the water gun back there in the hazy distance, which you can’t see anymore – so it must not be there. Doubtless, the ocean water is fire. And the dizziness is universal. Because that’s how you feel. And so it is with the world.
in murky middle school gyms
the pushes and the pulls