Summer locusts chirp, their feathery wings finding it almost impossible to lift their grotesque bodies. I sit in the gazebo and watch them hit the screens. The heat has lessened some, but the stillness is there. No breeze to relieve the stifling heat of August. A drenching rain left puddles that warmed once the sun hit them. It's 98 in the shade, the radio says. The dog pants and tries to find a cool spot under a tree. I wipe the moisture from my neck and wait for a breeze to dry the beads of sweat sliding down my face.
I try to read a magazine with pictures of prehistoric man and wonder what the earth was really like a million years ago. There are no caves in my yard. Were there mountains here? How did they keep cool, the people who came before us? I can understand why Mexicans take a siesta during the day as I yawn; this heat is tiring. Licking my lips, I taste salt as I wipe my mouth, and small drops of salty sweat stick to my skin. I leaf through the magazine's pages damp with humidity and wonder what this spot in my yard will be like in a million years. Will it return to caves and mountains, and running brooks? Will deer run free and will the people be gone? I hear the sound of the town's trucks spraying for mosquitoes and I laugh, shaking my head. The smell of insecticide masks the rose's fragrance. Will there be flowers? A small bird picks a bug from a leaf and I tell him to be careful, it's probably covered with poison.
I walk barefoot on the hot driveway, the asphalt almost soft. I step in a warm puddle to cool my feet. Lush grass with no weeds makes a carpet of green. Pulling a blade from the lawn I taste it. It tastes strange, like medicine, like weed killer. When I was a child you could chew on a blade of grass in the summer. There were bugs then, too.
What will it be like in a million years? Will there be summer? Will children be able to eat the grass and breathe deep? Or will the summer of my childhood be the past never to return? Will the oceans be filled with man's junk and no fish?
Night falls, its darkness spreading a blanket of quiet over my yard and house. The crickets chirp, the temperature drops to 90 and a cooling breeze off the ocean makes it bearable. I press a cold glass against my forehead and long for winter. Seasons fly by now. In a million years will there be seasons or just one long summer?
In the heat of the night I toss and turn in my bed, the cool sheets warmed to the temperature of my body, and again I long for winter. I sleep and dream of days gone by, of summers at the beach, of summers by a lake. I dream, and in my dream I wonder what will it be like in a million years. In the heat of the night I feel I'm drowning in my own sweat so I go outside, lay in the grass, and watch the stars twinkle across a hot August sky.
Bio: Regina Phelps is a regular contributor to Moondance Columns. She started writing seriously in the twilight of her life. She loves it with a passion and wishes she had started earlier. She has been published in small presses such as The Fiction Primer, Dogwood Tales, Happy, Satire and others. Recently she gave a second fiction reading in Manhattan. She lives on Long Island in New York and is a wife to a lobsterman, a mother of two and a grandmother of four. She has just finished her first novel and is working on another.