It’s July, and I open the door to an empty house. I fill the empty basket in the kitchen with peaches, so that the sun may come and dance in it. So that it makes the windows sing and point to the dust covering everything. I open the windows, and the high strands of grass in the garden bend over as if to say Hello! Hello! Hello!
The house is still empty when everyone gets here. Our shadows have no time to paint themselves on the walls, our footsteps don’t hollow out the floorboards. All summer we want the sun to hold us in its palm, and to be always outside in the grass with our eyes too big for the too bright world. Our summer is a beautiful fruit, a world waiting to be bitten into. When I lie down, conversation seems to rise and fall next to me like pieces of stained glass, shining for a moment before they fade away. At lunch we open big dusty bed sheets to lay on the ground, and we eat our fruit with bread. I cut a peach in half and hold one half as an offering: here it is. Someone bites into it and the juice runs from their lips to the sheet like a child’s laugh. I recognize love so easily when it looks like the shadow of a cypress tree, or shared fruit, or drawings left by tree branches in the air when the wind takes them dancing.
Before falling asleep, I’m used to making lists of small, precious events. Like a prayer: the woman who smiled at me when I saw her blowing soap bubbles, the coin found on the ground. A prayer too the beautiful sentence read again and again that has walked around my mind so much I can still see its footprints. My happiness is a tender thing, a ripe fruit ready to burst. Outside, the world hurts everywhere and when I am holding this tiny fruit in my hand anybody’s pain could walk over it. Here I almost forget how fragile it is: I sleep thoughtlessly. The taste of the fruit stubbornly pacing over my tongue, the sun still stuck to the inside of my eyelids. My entire prayer sits in my palms, in hands that have kissed all day the earth and the green grass.
Our summer is slow, sickly. The days melt into one another under the heat. Every day we walk for hours in the grass but we never get far. I cut some flowers in the garden, I trap fresh water in a vase later for the flowers I shouldn’t have cut. Sometimes there are voices rising like shards of glass, stifled irritations. Summer has no memory, so by morning everything is forgiven.
In the evenings somebody cooks. The onions sing softly in the pan and sometimes someone adds another song over that, a little sadder. Our feet are tender from having walked too long and the broken glass bottle makes us laugh too loud. The window panes quiet down when the sun sets. When we talk about movies we turn a little heavier. Sometimes somebody cries. Nobody eats the peaches, but nobody throws them away so they stay in the basket. We have hours still to spend, huddled in the heart of summer.
The heat comes still, in waves that fall down on us as soon as the sun rises. We don’t move out of fear of waking up the heavy air. There’s nothing left of us except bodies scattered in the living room and the kitchen, and the music always playing. Life trapped like fresh water in that dead flower vase.
I listen to the water running in the bathroom, and the ocean is so far away I couldn’t even hear it whisper in a pretty shell. Somebody coughs in another room. In the evening we sit on the floor with our plates on our knees. Our words are like bubbles rising up to the ceiling, floating out to the garden through the wide open windows. Friendship is a delicate thing, a spider web that any of our sleepy movements could break.
I wish it would storm.
At night I hear the cars approaching on the road nearby and getting further like a handful of light stains. We came in a wave that looks just like these, car lights chasing after each other. We’ll leave in another wave, all noise and blurred lights. For now, it’s easy to lie down and let the wave come again and again a thousand times until its form holds in a dream. At night I can wander worriless in the woods where our bodies lie. In my dreams we are food for the humid soil, our flesh tender from waiting for so long. Then sunlight washes our bones. On the skin we have left putrefaction has lovingly drawn a thousand arabesques. Someone finds our bodies scattered in the heat the same way they are in the big living room. We look like overripe fruit fallen from the trees, engorged with sugar and water. The wind carries our warm and putrid smell. When I look at us I recognize the pattern our bodies draw in the living room light. These bodies in the woods hold the same life our bodies do when we are waiting for the sunset; but the life in them spills over, splashes the flowers and the moss and the nearby trees. While we’re still living in them, the life gathers itself at our napes and fingertips.
Summer is still moving, and every night in the living room I have the same dream/premonition and every night it is brighter, every night I paint the woods greener the moss richer the dew more beautiful.
The days are curling up on themselves to turn smaller. In our beautiful fruit I find worms, but the tomatoes in the garden have had their cheeks reddened by the too long summer and in the evening we cut them in the kitchen. We stand in the kitchen and work on our friendship. Paint it with fresh water, with barely ripe tomatoes and plums. We weave more threads into the web.
Every day this melancholy tune walks around in our minds, trembles like a candle in the wind that lights up again each time we hum it. The naked lamp on the ceiling throws tender colours on our shoulders and lights the dirty tiles. Summer is dimming down and its colours turn as heavy as a child’s eyelids in the evening. With my back turned I can’t see all of us, but I can hear our bare feet against the tiles and I would know us anywhere. Someone is standing at the kitchen door. Someone is sitting at the table. At night I dream the sky carries me away throught the open window, my arms thrown out like atrophied wings.
One day after lunch it rains and a new laugh comes to sit in my throat. The rain washes away the smell of summer dying for a minute. Outside (we have to be outside, under the water kissing our open palms and the thirsty soil a thousand times), outside the water blurs our senses turns us clumsy and hesitant. Everything in us is running to the trees and the wet mud and the smell of the flowers.
Even after it stops, it’s like the rain has come in through every window and reached even the furthest corner of our tiny universe.
Sometimes I am afraid that after summer forgetfulness will come, I am afraid I will neglect the water that runs the high grass and the onions in the pan when I will be far. My eyes catch on every detail: here the sun on a shoulder like a paint spill here the curtains whispering their secrets to the half-open windows here the light in the garden at night. Later our neglect will have broken the web here and there and we will have to work again. But it will be the season of clementines that took all summer to paint themselves in secret, that drank and ate and waited until the sun was away before being ready. Each one like a small sun, like an entire summer you can fit in your hand. Each of us (alone) like a clementine holding in its thin skin all of its happiness even far away from the tree even far away from the sun. So I will buy some and eat them piece by piece and count on my fingers un peu beaucoup passionnément à la folie. And then I will find someone to share them with.
Summer is still standing at the door, hesitating. He looks back, pretends to have forgotten something, his rays loosely holding the doorknob. Eventually he sits back down. He would rather die a little slower, a little later. On the kitchen table there a handful of tired peaches around which the flies come to dance.