Burns

You’re in deep shit, but you can’t find the will to get out

— –

Last year he knocked a chip off your heart. Luckily, it wasn’t going fast enough and you saw it coming from a mile away so you dodged it at just the right moment. Not unscathed, but at least unbroken.

Maybe you lingered on purpose. Maybe you wanted to feel it, just a little. As a memento, maybe, because you didn’t think you’d see it again.

But you did. Somewhere in that distant horizon, the punch buggy with the license plate number CRUSH hailing from Ohio came cruising back, just as easily as it came the first time, at a steady and leisurely 40 miles per hour. For some reason, you didn’t see that coming, even after it had paused, politely, at the request of the crosswalk guard and the presence of young children crossing the road. Even after all that, you didn’t see it coming.

“Hey! Been thinking about you lately.”

It was coming at a leisurely 40 miles per hour, but it hit you pretty squarely in the chest. You survived, miraculously.

And just like that, you were back to cruising. The smartest thing to do, after an almost-near-death experience the first time, would be to avoid anything that resembled it in the first place, but when it comes to this sort of stuff, you never really do the “smartest” things, ever, do you?

Not to mention you don’t know shit about cars except how to get into them and how to drive them.

And so, of course, instead of getting up and dusting yourself off, you got in.

— –

There’s something about the idea of summers

Not even summer, just the idea of summer. And the idea of summer seems to hit hardest in the spring.

Your dreams of summer start with a game night with too many people, but just the right kind of too many people.

You have another dream of summer at the movies. A very typical summer activity. It’s in the spring, though, so you don’t worry about getting burnt.

Last summer, that’s exactly what happened. You fell too deep into summer, and bathed yourself with glorious abandon in rays that were at first enticingly warm but in one punch moment left you feeling raw, stinging, and wincing for the rest of the year. You got the wound dressed, of course, and you switched the bandaids out and you healed nicely, but upon facing those rays again, a particular part of you winces and stops you just in time from stepping fully into the sun.

From a conscious distance, the sun feels good. You get closer, but this time, you have sunscreen handy. Maybe you even have a hat, sunglasses and a towel. This time, you feel ready to step into the sun. This time, you’re armed.

You get closer. The hat feels unnecessary.

There was prom, and prom was fun. You got pretty close to the sun that time, bright and warm and inviting as it is, but for the most part, you kept to the shade. The feedback from your students is anything but, and that makes you glow.

Now you have a tan and it looks good on you. You used sunscreen this time, so you aren’t immediately covered in angry red all over. And besides, your skin is probably tougher now. More resilient. You might be able to get as close as you did last time, but you’ll be better so you won’t get hurt as much, if at all.

That’s what you tell yourself, anyway, but it doesn’t really work like that.

You ignore the feeling that the sun is a little warm on your cheeks, and that the warmth isn’t going away. You assume it’s some sort of afterglow, even though you know it’s not.

When the sun goes away, that warmth is still there. Instead of going back inside to check yourself, you go after the sun, setting though it is and colder though it is.

It’s dusk and the sun is gone and your cheeks are still warm.

— –

At the end of the day, car crashes happen and sunburns happen and it’s only your delirious addiction to driving fifteen miles over the speed limit and fondness for revealing summer clothes that get you burned alive.

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