The humid air hung around my skin, like a dew. Late June and we were shifting our gears from boys and girls to men and women, our bodies seemed to agree but our minds still adolescent in age. Walking up the sidewalk, the living room was dim and the kitchen too bright with fluorescent hues cascading from the window to the sidewalk. Opening the door, I walked into a thick wall of sweet scent as the collection of teens inside gained one more body.
Girls with boys and girls with girls, isn’t fourteen the age we learned how to flirt? For the past year I kept my eyes turned down and iPod buds in my ears — trying to pass unnoticed by the girls already grown into push-up bras and unwanted by the boys who couldn’t stop looking at them. Tonight would be different, tonight I would rewrite my script.
There was a bottle, a single bottle of vanilla vodka. Had I not read the label I would have mistaken it for nail polish remover. We had the big glass bottle and a liter of Coca-Cola. I brought the glass to my lips — and winced. Then the plastic to my lips — sweet relief. One more round, all smiles. Two more rounds, now we giggle.
I pulled my sweater off my shoulders, draped it on a chair. I’m Penny Lane — I danced from one room to the next, announcing my arrival with a hand above my head, gently bent at the wrist. In the dim lights and newfound freedom we grew into our own skin — sweaty and tan and innocent still.
We laughed. We swayed. We fell asleep in clusters on the floor to the gentle hum of a fan. As the first rays of light spilled into the living room, our unwilted bodies magically escaped the claws of headaches and hangovers. Slowly opening our eyes, we gently locked gazes and mischievous smiles curled up our lips.
We ate unnaturally colored Pop-Tarts, singing along to some pop diva who’s bad influence taught us to dance on tables and shake our asses like we knew what that insinuated. Fresh-eyed and rosy-cheeked, we hopped on our bikes and pedaled to the beach. Kicking off our sandals, we didn’t even lay out our towels. Four silhouettes of girls, not yet women, raced into the water and dove under waves. Another day we spent in the sunshine, then another night with the boys and girls gathered around a kitchen table where someone’s mom didn’t care.
It was my last childhood summer.
Last Summer is the first short story featured in my new nonfiction series – The Memory Collection.
Originally published by Kaitlin Schilling on Literally Literary, a Medium publication.