Thursday, May 26, 2011


The new born summer wailed with heat and Danny sat on his skateboard in the middle of an empty parking lot, head between his knees hanging down to cheek the bass waves of hazy sun beating off of the black tarmac. It was gummy beneath his wheels and streaked the red plastic with sooty skids, his shoes picked up a misty carbon sheen like they had over toasted in the oven. The traffic was light for rush hour, eerie lapses in cars between people dribbling home from work with their shirt sleeves rolled up and their ties flapping. Danny liked those people better, he didn't have air conditioning and the only relief from the stuffy neighborhood air was to get out of his house and keep moving, generating his own breeze skating or walking by the river. The business people with their windows rolled up and throat high buttons looked so alien behind the glass, he hated the thought of being trapped in a cold bubble where the organic outdoor noise was muffled, and the swelling air felt like an assault when you cracked the seal on your door to run inside.

He rolled himself back and forth, the satisfying spin of ball bearings mixed with forlorn bird whistles and moms corralling toddlers to the park or library. Summer was a ten day old thing and already all of his friends had fled town, to Avalon or Sea Isle or their mountain cabins. They were the places they went with their families, leaving in a caravan in the early cool of Saturday morning, and their dads came home with one tanned arm from where it hung on the window. They laughed at each other when they mowed their lawns the next week, pointing to their single red elbows. Danny mowed his lawn and he and his mother didn't get to go on vacations. It was a strange and lonesome two weeks when so much of the population evaporated leaving him to skate up and down empty streets after the sun had set and a stripe of sweat ran chills up his back like a skunks tail, the chucking wheels echoing off of the blank windows.

It was Danny's secret covenant to eat with his mother at least once a day. He wondered if it was hard, no husband and spending most nights at home. He was always out with his friends and even when they were gone he was too restless to stay in more than once or twice a week. Was it different to be an adult or do you just get used to things? Danny never had the courage to ask her. Sometimes he made her eggs before she left in the morning, or skated to her office with a sandwich. This morning he scraped hard butter on his burnt toast, black speckles of crumb coming off on the knife. He mom sat at the table and they made small talk about the day's plans. She took a sip of her coffee and said "You must get bored with all your friends gone. I don't know what you do all day."

"It's not bad." Danny said, "I get by."

"You'll probably get a job next summer, save for a car. Everything changes, but you'll be able to do more things."

Danny felt her looking at him, measuring him somehow in a mother's way that didn't need inches. It was like she was asking him a question but he didn't know what it was. "I'm ok with my skateboard, mom. I don't know what I'd change."

They sat there in silence lit in a timeless gold, she didn't have to rush off on summer mornings because so many people were away. She looked like she was going to say something but she finished her coffee instead and stood up. On her way passed him she leaned over and kissed his head and said, "You never were any trouble, Danny boy."

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