“It smells a lot like summer! The aroma of fresh minty lemonade, warm breeze, cacophony of the birds…it really does smell a lot like summer!”
“Ha! You bet. Summer is, in fact, an absolute favourite. The best thing about summer is sitting by the pool on a sunny day and talking about summer! And yes, re-iterating the same old- what do you like the best about summers?”
“What if I say that I do not like summers at all?”
“Well, that would make it one of us! But then, what is there to not like about summers?”
“I am not fond of the heat, to begin with, but I wouldn’t mind sipping a mojito at the beach.”
“You’ve been awfully quiet, Zoe. Tell us, what do you think about summers?”
Zoe replied with a weak smile.
Zoe looked peaceful, until this question came up. There are quite a lot of things that reminded her of summers: lime popsicles, rafting, summer camp, abuse…She shuddered. A poignant remembrance of the summer of…2014, was it? The tent she had picked for herself was red, bright and stunning. She had been looking forward to her very first summer camp and there was no stopping her from stuffing the yellow duffle bag with an excessive amount of chocolate bars and nut crackers. It was the second day and the itinerary of the venture included a swim day. Zoe still remembers how the hand crept on her skin while she attempted to wipe her face with the towel. The remembrance of those hands still makes her want to throw her guts out. She still does not dare to think whose hands it might have been. The rest of the nights at the summer camp were spent crouching and tearing up inside the tent that was red, bright and stunning.
She glances across the room. Maybe Rusha had faced something similar, maybe in 2014, 2015, 2016…does it matter? Maybe her trauma has dissolved her favour for a season, or a place or anything that once overwhelmed her. Maybe she has still not forgotten that nasty touch, or that demeaning stare. Maybe she still thinks its her fault that she was doing something extremely human. Maybe she forces herself to sleep, curled up on a red mattress.
Zoe notices that she had finished her glass of juice. Getting up, she walks to the kitchen. She keeps the glass in the sink and looks out of the kitchen window. She saw her neighbour, a woman in her early sixties, walking the Pomeranian. Who knows if she had been stalked on her way home, in the early 80s? Or cornered in the boardroom in the mid-90s? Did she cry later on, curled up in a red blanket?
Zoe zones into the present, feeling the summer sun shining bright. The rest of the lot had gathered in the backyard. She opens her refrigerator, takes out a chilled bottle of water, takes a big gulp, and puts the bottle back inside, and shuts the door. She walks out to join the gathering…
“…yes, that fruit punch used to taste so, especially after a good game of cricket!”
“You would know the most, since you were the one who used to get bowled the most, and to take your revenge, you’d drink all the punch!”
“That is not true!”
“Yes, it is!”
“Zoe, your garden is blooming with Lilies! It smells so nice in here.”
Zoe gives a faint smile: “Yes, it smells a lot like summer.”
Written by Debanjana Mukherjee