We spent the summer months lethargic. We spent every month lethargic, because that was how we liked our months. Especially so for the warm ones. We laid out on backyard trampolines to attract heat in the direction of our skin, to make our skin less like our skin and more like the skin of someone else. It was a pleasure to opt in and out of the color of our skin. We closed our eyes and kicked our legs to flick off ants crawling across the skin we were cultivating. There were always ants. There was always lemonade, and then there was always vodka lemonade, and then there was always just vodka. In it was always ice. We put the ice on our bare stomachs and watched it melt. We stuck the ice in the pockets of our cheeks and cracked it between our teeth when we needed something to do. We stayed stock-still when we spotted wasps. We always spotted wasps. In every trampoline in every backyard in every wealthy suburban neighborhood there is a wasp’s nest, and there is a dad who says he’ll get rid of it and then forgets, and there is a daughter and her friend who crunch ice between their teeth and stay stock-still so as not to get stung.
On the horizon were jobs. Jobs were always on the horizon. Jobs were always on the horizon but perpetually not arriving. Our parents were always telling us that soon we’d have to get them. Our parents were always saying that school came first but once school was done—and school now was done—we would have to get jobs. They couldn’t pay for us forever, you know. But we didn’t know. Or we did know, but what we knew was that they could. They could pay for us forever and they would, even if they said they wouldn’t. We had apartments in cities that we didn’t live in but could. We had CEOs whose desks could be graced with our resumes if we should so decide. We had internships under our belts, thanks to the CEOs and thanks to the apartments in the cities that we could stay in if we so decided. We could feel the power of choice in our fingertips. So we chose nothing.
We chose nothing, lying on the trampoline with ice between our teeth, scrolling our phones. We scrolled our phones and stopped on photos of old classmates who still lived at home and thought how sad that was, as we thought of our apartments in other cities. We stopped on photos of old classmates who went to community college and clucked our tongues in pity, thinking of our far away colleges, of the degrees from our faraway colleges framed in our high school bedrooms. We thought how sad it was to not have really lived, how to really live life you ought to go somewhere. We thought it was sad how they hadn’t worked harder to have that kind of life. How hard we worked, we said. How hard we worked year-round to earn such lethargic months. To earn summer months crunching ice on trampolines. How hard we worked to earn this last real summer, we said, and shook our heads sadly, flicking ants from our legs and sipping our drinks.
Katie Robinson is an incoming fiction MFA candidate at Boston University and the social media editor at Electric Literature. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from Grist, Electric Literature, Prism Review, Stonecoast Review, and elsewhere. She received her BA in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University and has attended Tin House Workshop and Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She is currently at work on a novel and collection of short stories, and you can find her on twitter @katie_a_rob.
image: MM Kaufman