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Summer's End

By: onipar

 

 

When the crickets began their nightly chorus, I knew summer had drawn alarmingly close to its end. Not the true end of summer, mind you. That wouldn’t happen until late September. But every kid knew that summer really ended as soon as you began shopping for school supplies. The glorious golden days of freedom ended the minute you started worrying about finishing your summer reading and book reports. It ceased the second the school busses started rolling along the roadway again.

Oh, dread. Oh, terror and woe! How had the days and weeks marched by so quickly when at first they felt infinite?


And weren’t they infinite and wonderful, those sun-burned days of freedom? A single day was a lifetime of Italian ice, bike rides, and arcades. Running through the sprinklers and playing a game of handball at the park. Browsing the video store, staring at the same horror tapes I’d looked at a million times, mostly out of fascination but also to soak up the air conditioning for a while.

 

These barely formed memories buzzed around my childhood head like the crickets buzzed around the trees. I’d lay in bed those last days of summer, wondering how it could be over so soon.


That’s how time was back then, when my parents chose all of my clothes and the most important thing about Saturday were the cartoons. Everything simultaneously took forever and slipped by too fast. A year was a lifetime and the summer would never end.

Until it did. 

Until those final days manifested like a starving cannibal, ready to tear the meat from the bones of summer. Panic would settle in. Had I done all the things I’d wanted to? Would I have time for one last ice cream truck purchase? One last Flintstones pushup pop or WWF ice cream bar? A last round of Street Fighter II and a final fishing trip on Shore Parkway?

 

Deep down I knew these things wouldn’t vanish from my life overnight. I knew there’d be those crossover weeks, when schoolwork hadn’t yet reached a crescendo and the days were still warm and pleasant. But I also saw the world with the clear, cruel eyes of a child. I knew what the end of summer looked like, because I’d seen it wither before. I’d seen the summertime merchandise—all ice pops, coolers, and beach gear—shift suddenly to Trapper Keepers, pencils, and backpacks. We all knew the signs. The omens. And we read them like fortune tellers at street fairs (just another thing we’d have to say goodbye to).

Yet, for all the melancholy, there was still wonder in the world. Just as my kid-eyes saw the death of summer clearly, they saw the new, mysterious beginnings of another season. A season of making new friends, playing new video games, discovering new ideas. There’d be costumes and candy, there’d be parades and turkey, there’d be decorations and presents. There was always so much more to look forward to that my sadness at the passing of summer was fleeting. Before I knew it, I’d be back at school, and all the familiar smells and sounds of the classroom would settle on me like chalk dust.

But, until that happened, I’d make the most of what summer I had left. I’d ride my bike, track down that elusive ice cream truck, and maybe rent an NES game if I could find the extra dollar somewhere. Heck, maybe I’d even go recycle some cans for the money, because there was a week left, and all the school shopping in the world couldn’t take that away.


I was ten years old, and even if summer was over, I had a lifetime of summers left ahead of me, and a lifetime to remember the ones I’d had.

 

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Vaporman87 Posted on Sep 01, 2020 at 02:26 AM

We always returned to school the third or final week of August. I know this because the County Fair was the “last hurrah” of Summer for us (and was held the second week of August) and we would see kids from school there knowing that we’d be seeing them again in just a week or two.

onipar Posted on Aug 29, 2020 at 02:59 PM

Benjanime, Oh yeah, I can relate. Living in Brooklyn, we did some questionable things as kids. Probably lucky we didn't get hurt.

Mr. Magic, Thanks! Yeah, that's so true. I was surprised kids were already back to school when I found out this year. Especially because I don't start teaching until Monday (college).

Mr Magic Posted on Aug 28, 2020 at 03:01 PM

Wow, there was pure poetry in that article.

But when you think about it, kids have it worse today. They have to go back to school in August, rather than September, like we used to.

Benjanime Posted on Aug 28, 2020 at 01:47 PM

when i was still living at a mobile home park at age 10 i had a friend that enjoyed doing risky stuff for fun, going out in the woods was one, since there was an area right beside the park, and even going to an abandoned shed and jumping off the roof to land on a double mattress. i felt like those were the most fun days of my childhood.

onipar Posted on Aug 27, 2020 at 03:00 PM

Glad you enjoyed, Vkimo! Yeah, I feel like ten was that perfect summer age.

vkimo Posted on Aug 27, 2020 at 12:14 AM

Some ages and experiences just go together like PB&J - 10 and Summer like you mentioned, 16 and in love, 35 and balding...Great read

onipar Posted on Aug 26, 2020 at 06:44 PM

Haha, thanks. I find myself comparing far too many things to cannibals these days. :-p Glad you enjoyed! I was feeling the end of summer acutely this year and thought I'd translate it through my childhood.

Vaporman87 Posted on Aug 26, 2020 at 04:15 PM

Ha! This was so great. I love that you compared the end of Summer to a starving cannibal! ROFL!

Well done, sir. Truly a fitting tribute to all of the Summer finales we have all experienced. Definitely rings true for me.

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