Summer Forever by Victoria Corwin

the summer seemed to go on forever.

the heat’s palpable now, the slimy, thick air that slides in and out of your lungs as you breathe, almost choked by your own will to live. it is oppressive, it has a weight that presses you down, sticks you to the gummy sidewalks—the sidewalks. surprising they haven’t completely melted into puddles of watery cement yet. they’re caught somewhere between runny marshmallow and soft limestone. if you slapped the surface hard enough it would hurt, but you would pull away putty trails of grey dotted with dark minerals on your palm. oh, they would melt. soon.

you pass by abandoned kiosks that once sold water bottles. they’ve mostly evaporated (the water in the bottles, not the kiosks, thought you wouldn’t be surprised), even in the cold of the fridges on wheels. well, as cold as it could get in the sweltering blankets of heat. now they stand there, igloos of metal, immovable, their wheels melted, almost welded, to the street. a dog hopelessly licks the tiny beads of condensation off one of their walls. poor guy. all that fur everywhere. you can’t even fathom wearing shoes anymore, but the burn of the baking asphalt would be too much for bare skin.

an ambulance roars through the empty streets and the dog skids away, into the shade of the bushes. you wonder what could possibly have happened this time and then you feel guilty for suddenly thanking every power in heaven for sending the ambulance rushing down the streets to churn the stale air, causing a little breeze to dance across your damp skin. it’s short-lived, the dead weight of the air once again deadly still, and you yearn for more.

you can’t remember the last time you felt a breeze. a real one, not the mechanized puffs from fans or rushing ambulances. natural, like the wind off the ocean or the radiant chill of an icepop held up to your lips in the heat. oh god, when was the last time you had an icepop on the beach? you used to go down to the shore every summer with your family. that stopped when all this happened. they say it only took a year for the water to start boiling, maybe even less. you remember hearing the pseudo-urban legends about the kids who rushed into the water and came out looking like lobsters, and the first death from the waves. just a little toddler, floaties and all. refused to leave the bobbing fun of the sea when her parents called. they say the blisters were the size of dinner plates, and the screams blood-curdling, haunted everyone who heard. nobody’s been in the ocean since.

it’s been eight years.