Saturday, 6 June 2020

'The Spirit of Summer' by Danny Beusch

The trampoline’s black mat bobs up and down, springs squeaking in protest. I stand beside it — my shadow long and lonely on our parched lawn — reach through the safety net, wriggle my fingers: there’s no one there.

Dinner, shouts Dad from the kitchen.

We eat salad in silence. Dad pours himself a glass of wine. And then another.

*

Dad butters my toast, plaits my hair, makes lunch, walks me to school, cleans the house, brings me home, cooks dinner, irons, runs the bath, reads bedtime stories, lies next to me until I fall asleep. In the morning I climb into his giant bed, snuggle close, wonder what he does with the darkest hours at the end of each day.

*

Today the bouncing is louder.

I stay in the sandpit, sprinkle cool sugar over my feet. It’s too dry for sandcastles: nothing sticks; foundations crumble. When the weather changes I’ll tell Dad it’s time to rebuild what was lost.

The squeaks get further apart. The spirit of summer soars.

*

At school we make cards: yellow paper, cut into sunflowers, stuck with glue, splattered with glitter.
Mummies like bright pretty things, announces Miss Adams, our teacher.

You’re a good girl, the teaching assistant whispers, your daddy must be so proud.

*

I step onto the trampoline, wobble against the rise and fall of the mat, tumble onto my bum. But here’s Dad, pulling me up by my left hand. And then, in my right, someone else: invisible, cold, familiar.

Now we bounce. A circle of three. Unbroken. My daddies and me.

*

The sun sets, leaves rustle in the cool breeze, pinpricks of rain dot my skin. Dad stands opposite, smiling.

Dinner’s ready, he says. I’ve made Pop’s favourite.

I miss him so much, I say.

Me too, sweetheart. Me too.


---
'The Spirit of Summer' was previously published in Reflex Fiction in October 2018.

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