a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
I don’t know what it was that made me stick my hand through the car’s window.
Drenched in sweat, sizzling sidewalks were halting to a cooling point now that nightfall was returning.
I stretched my hand further out as we drove past a grass field. I could touch the air and cradle my emotions for once. The sky was clementine orange, and the moon was returning home from its day-long journey.
My hair was carelessly fluttering in the wind, and I could feel my forgotten love for Summer seep back into my splintered bones.
I realized that I had been unconsciously smiling towards the sunset.
But then you crossed my mind. I don’t know why I let myself do that. I shouldn’t have.
I think it was the orange in the sky that reminded me of the tangerine slices we once shared. Anchored by the wind of the car drive, I realized that I was cold.
Goosebumps freckled my gold-struck skin, scorching from my summer day’s adventures.
My skin shriveled. I tucked my knees into myself. I caved inwards like a salt-kissed slug under a magnifying glass.
I like to believe that it wasn’t because of you. I wouldn’t want to admit that you made me cold in the middle of summer.
It was the car drive at nightfall that caused the drastic change of temperature in my body.
Not because of you.
I don’t understand why I was still cold even after I returned home.
I shut the door to my forsaken shithole of a room, and I stood in the middle of the darkening pit. The citrus-driven blanket in the sky had long faded into a recurring nothingness. It’s that same nothingness you left at the arrival of June.
There is no need to turn on the fan, nor fetch myself a perspiring glass cup of ice water, nor unconsciously kick the sticky bed sheets to the floor in the middle of the night.
Rather, I burrow myself deeper in my sheets for warmth. The constant turmoil of fighting against the current of Summer’s heat is no longer a recurring problem I look forward to.
Carelessness is the embedded oasis I seek comfort in when it’s Summer; for there’s absolutely nothing to justify a crumbling sorrow in times of pure joy.
I love the way Summer guides me into her oak branch arms.
The little girl inside of me is still enamored by her crystalizing beauty, and I can still feel my previous self seek shade under her oak branches.
The season I had grown to love is slipping through my threshold, and it’s as if I’m back at the waterfall that towered over us back in February.
I had kneeled beside the lingering water Moccasin just so I could run my fingers through the glittering stream of the waterfall. I felt your eyes on me, watching me cup water and lift it into the air.
The water scurried through the creases of my hands, and I looked over my shoulder to see you one last time before the Moccasin of time struck its fangs into my skin.
I didn’t know that you would slip from me just like that. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to get too close to you, let alone the water Moccasin.
Following the heels of my friends, I return to that same waterfall, only now I return prepared: a towel, sun block and a fishnet bag of ripe tangerines to share.
Betrayed by the ineffable, I dither by the sidelines; I’m unable to step into the water. If it weren’t for you, I would have slipped in. I would have basked under the waterfall and let it wash away the minimal fragments of you. But you’ve grown on me.
I haven’t touched the skin of a tangerine in a while, and it’s sad. The last time I dug my nails into a tangerine was when I peeled our last and final one, just days before June had rolled around. There are still tangerine chunks under my fingernails. It’s the last bit of trace I have of you, which is why I decide not to peel another one. The acidity will surely sting if I do.
I know that you’ll come back eventually, once Summer is picked off by Fall in the same way candied apples are picked off from their green nests.
You’ll be back once summer ends.
But once summer returns, next year, I’ll yet again hold myself back on the tangerines just so I can wait to eat them with you.
You’ve made me stray away from Summer enough for her to wonder if I’ll ever return to her shade again.
You made me grow tired of summer.
I no longer get up from bed to speak to the fireflies in the field at dawn. I get up just to cross out the days I have left to see you and maybe, just maybe, have you split a tangerine for me instead of me to you.
You’ve stained an already orange summer with a newly found shade of clementine.
As I immortalize this longing sentimentality on my computer, you plant your last tangerine slice on the palm of someone else.
I know that you’ll carelessly continue to eat the fruit I’ve preserved for you. I know that you’re enjoying your summer with different faces everyday, all of which don’t remind you of me.
I know that I don’t mean enough for you to lend me a thought during Summer.
And that’s ok. I’ll still wait for you. I’ll save my tangerines for you.
I hope to feel summer’s warmth again.
Daisy Navarrete, who is 17 and lives in San Diego, is a current senior at the O'Farrell Charter school. Alongside submerging herself in literature, Daisy spends her time participating in outdoor activities, primarily skateboarding and hiking. She hopes that her writing inspires other uprising writers to create their own works.
* = Editors' Choice work
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