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The First Day of Summer

He remembered feeling part of the cycle of the receding and oncoming tides pulled by the grinning, culprit moon.

It had been a dreary spring: dark midday downpours, muggy air at night. June arrived. The early light roused him from less-than-deep slumbers. He faced the new day with an uneasiness lodged in the pit of his stomach.

He went to the gym but found no relief at the Cybex machines. Dinner with friends at a place known for its flavorful Bolognese failed to thrill him. The Chianti tasted sour. He corresponded with a former girlfriend. I’m off to Europe, she texted. But she didn’t say when, and made no indication if she wanted to see him, either before her trip, or afterward. At night he lay in bed listening to the rain pelt the windowpane.

And then, a day or two later, the steady rain succeeded in pushing away the heavy, soupy oppressiveness. He found himself invigorated. Driving home from work, without knowing what prompted it, he surrendered to a memory from twenty years before, to the time he and his friends stayed in a beach house located down a grassy lane, far from the main roads.

The sky brightened early then and stayed that way all day, and only when darkness came did the clouds move in, partially obscuring the stars and the moon that peered, mockingly, through the clouds. Each day was drenched with the light, with clarity. They went swimming and sunbathing together and cooked scrumptious food outdoors.

One night in particular he and his friends stayed up drinking and talking until the wee hours. He awoke in a sleeping bag in a back room. The others were splayed on the couches or on the floor, in odd positions, wearing their clothes from the night before. He pulled on his jeans. His skin was tingling from the early coolness. He slipped out the back door so as not to disturb the others. The mist was rising from the meadow; the plow was idle and mud speckled. He walked past the neighbor’s barn. The path was soft underfoot from pine needles. When the pine needles gave way to white sand he knew he was climbing the backside of the dunes.

Soon he was surrounded by waist-high grasses, a steep hillside below, the sea beyond.

The waves were crashing on the shore. He remembered running down the dunes, the sand kicking up behind him stinging his eyes, his hands flailing in a vain attempt to stop his fall.

He parked his car. He stood in the driveway. The morning light drenched everything just like it had years before. He remembered feeling part of the cycle of the receding and oncoming tides pulled by the grinning, culprit moon.

And then he remembered slipping out of his jeans, no one in sight, sea spray cascading down his chest and legs, as he greeted the first day of summer.

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