Summer Dream

by nicolecallihan

All spring I was awash in the milky bliss of new motherhood, and now July is here, and I wake up rubbing my eyes, confused by how time is seemingly linear again. In those blooming months, I was twelve and a hundred, and my daughters had never been born and were already old. Red bandannas were tied to fig trees; rooms opened to other rooms; tender buttons slipped into even tenderer buttonholes.

This is to say: this morning I’m not quite sure how to be in this world.

A few years back, I opened a magazine and saw that there was a story called “How to be a Person.” I was giddy with the thought of it. I flipped to the page and started poring over it until realizing, with great disappointment, that it was not, in fact, a pamphlet for being; it was fiction.

Last Thursday, after K missed her train because she couldn’t find the stairs to get her to the other side of the track, we drove towards the ocean because the girls had fallen asleep in the backseat. On the way to the ocean, driving around the bend, we hit a deer. She was fine, I think, jumped the fence and ran off, but in the heart-tripping seconds after hitting her, I remembered what I first thought was a dream and then thought was a story but finally remembered was neither. It was something that had really happened. In high school, riding in Brooke’s car, there was a dog in the road. It was getting dark. We didn’t stop. Do you remember that short story about dogs? I asked K. About having to incinerate them? She remembered, of course, but it was a novel, she said,  a novel about more than just dogs. I need to start writing again, I told her, and she nodded and looked into the rear view mirror.

Before the air even started smelling like the sea, Ella woke, and I knew she was hungry, so I turned the car around, away from the ocean, and we drove back to the yellow house where I nursed E until she fell asleep again, her eyes fluttering with her very own dreams.

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