Summer Skin

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Based on the song from Death Cab Cutie: Summer Skin
Short story.

Submitted: July 31, 2011

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Submitted: July 31, 2011

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Summer Skin

By: Daniela Campos



The summer sun beat down on me, punishing me for whatever mistake I had made in the harsh winter. I could feel my skin baking, sweet and salty droplets of sweat racing down my shoulders. I pulled my hair away from my sticky neck and sighed, inhaling the fresh scent of the air. I had been dreading coming back; I thought it would be horrible and unbearable for me to even come back to this place—to this spot. This was the dreaded place where everything had happened and where everything had ended. I told myself that I would never return. But here I was.


Not too far away from where I was standing, an abandoned swing set noisily creaked and squeaked, the wind pushing against the two rusted swings. If anyone tried to actually swing on those swings, I was sure that it would just collapse under pressure. The tall yellow grass that grew around the small abandoned park tickled my smooth and tan calves, sending shivers up my spine. The faint image of us swinging on those swings appeared but I knew that it was my mind playing tricks on me. So I shook my head clear of those faded memories where I was the pale girl with freckles and plain brown hair that was always tied up into two high pony tails; the memories where I was the girl that had been so quiet and shy and unable to comprehend what it felt like to hold a conversation with people.

I walked over to the rusted swings and cautiously sat on it, the old swing groaning in protest. It was too old and weary for this but it managed to stay strong. I pushed off and started to swing, the squeaky sound of rusted chains filling my ears. It wasn't long until I was high up, swinging back and forth, the warm wind pushing against my face in a comforting way. I looked up at the purple and red sky, the orange sun starting to fall over the horizon. Long shadows were cast against the concrete and the grass. I could see my own shadow, holding onto the swing, back and forth.


‘He died in a car crash, Kimberly. He’s gone.' I pulled my feet down and skidded to a stop, taking in a deep breath. I stared at my feet, gripping onto the chains tightly. It was the first year that I had been to Summer Falls Lake Houses. It was the year when I was thirteen, about to be fourteen in autumn and I already thought that I was grown up. It was the year when I broke my arm because of gymnastics when I landed wrong. I had been waiting for the summer, that year, because I just knew that it was going to be great.


At the time, earlier in the year, my father, who had been going through a midlife crisis, decided that it'd be okay to find a younger, more perfect version of my mother. But, I couldn't be angry with him because while he was cheating on my mom with a woman named Darcy, my mom was cheating on my father with the gardener. It was ironic, funny even, how they were once in love, but decided that being with someone else was so much better. I usually asked myself, as my mother tried her best to keep the secret of "Jose", and my dad brought Darcy around the house when mom wasn't there, why were they trying so hard to play it off as something stupid even though they knew I knew the truth?


Mom played it off as "Jose and I are trying to think of how we can make the garden so much prettier. I want a great view from my window so, we need to plan it out."


And Dad used the simple, "This is Darcy, my secretary. We are going to go through some files for the huge business meeting coming up."


Who knew that planning out a garden and a proposal for a big meeting would cause so much noise? I couldn't say I wasn't bothered with it, with the constant unfaithfulness between my parents. What was the point of promising God forever if you were just going to cheat on each other in the future?


By the time Summer came around, the divorce was filed, and my mom became a hot, single, forty year old cougar. My dad moved out of the house and got a large condo, living the dream life with Darcy, who was almost half his age. I knew that one day, as they both signed the divorce papers, they would both realize that they made a mistake. They would know that sleeping with a different college boy almost every night and living with an air-headed girl would not give them happiness.


Still, I was forced to choose. Choose between the slutty mother or the ridiculously hypocritical dad. I chose the hypocrite. It wasn't because I hated my mother or hated what she wanted to do. I respected that. She got married young when she wasn't ready, had my brother, and never got the chance to have fun. This was her time now. And I was okay with it. My father wasn't so bad, he was excited that I chose him, but was respectful enough not to brag to my mother how much more I liked him, and had prepared for my arrival for weeks.


Darcy was excited too, that bimbo, she claimed that she always wanted a daughter. In my youth, I was witty enough to reply with, "You're young enough to still be a daughter. How old are you again, fifteen? I'm sure your dad is proud."


All she did was laugh and flip her hair. "Silly Goose. I'm not fifteen. I'm twenty-four."


And all I could do was look at my father and smile smugly. "You sure do know how to pick them, huh?" That comment had gotten me into trouble, but, it was okay. I didn't care. My father's view on being grounded was to keep me locked in my room for about an hour to "reflect" on what I had done. Then, a five minute lecture on how wrong it was to be rude, lie, and cheat. You could see now, why I referred to him as the Hypocrite.


When school was officially over, I moved in with my dad and Darcy into the fine condo that wasn't really a home and didn't feel like one either. I spent my first few weeks of summer decorating my room, finishing any school projects that I had to do, and writing in my dark blue journal that was filled with endless conversations to myself. The conversations never really made sense, but, it was comforting.


You could say I was a detached child. I didn't care that the boys my mother brought over were usually the same age, if not younger, as my brother who had already gone to a different state, gotten married to a girl similar to Darcy, and already with child. I didn't care that my dad was always gone and I was forced to spend "Mother, Daughter time with Darcy." Boy, she was stupid.


I always said to her, "Thank god you have your looks, Sweetie." in attempts to be mean. She didn't know what I meant by that, which sometimes really made me frustrated. I wanted to burn her, but it brought me down when she tilted her head to the side and furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. Since the divorce, I hadn't cried. I didn't mourn the untimely death of what was left of my parents' marriage. I didn't care. I couldn't care. And that was okay with me.


When my father had finally pulled away from work, he was ready to remove us from the condo for a while. It was "a little vacation from vacation", as he put it. I just secretly rolled my eyes, holding back the snarky remarks I was prepared to say. I really didn't want to go through another lecture.


Three long hours in the car with a hypocrite and a dummy. I was to the point where I wanted to jump out of the window, but, I was held back by the seat belt that was just too suffocating. I was thankful that my dad was a guilty man and bought me whatever I wanted to make up for the neglect. I didn't really want what he had to offer, but it was nice getting a laptop and an iPod to keep me busy on the road.


I wouldn't say that I was I was snobby or too much of drama queen that would cry whenever I didn't get what I wanted. I just didn't talk to anyone except for my mother and father, and occasionally to Darcy. But even then, I didn't say what was really on my mind. I was ultimately quiet. So when we arrived at Summer Falls, the first thing I did was sit out in the porch and watch all the other children play in the water. I wanted to go out there, I did, but, I couldn't find it in myself to go out in public wearing a bathing suit that Darcy had bought me. It was a bright pink two piece, with ruffles and polka dots, and I didn't feel like looking stupid. I was fine with my old but comfortable one piece that was black with large white horizontal lines. It made me feel extremely bad, as if I was in jail for committing a crime. It was cool.


Kids my age did approach me and asked if I wanted to play and although I wanted to say yes and jump into the cool blue water, I said no, in a cold, detached voice. I was called a snobby bitch. And I smiled. First day there, and already, I was called a bitch. It was quite an unexpected turn of events. While I had this whole big plan in my mind to appear shy and quiet but slowly reveal myself as someone like Darcy and make a bunch of friends, that was the result.


I tried to return to the safety of the lake house, but I found myself locked out. It was obvious that my dad and Darcy wanted to reacquaint themselves. I was turned away by not only my peers, but my dad and my step mom as well. I went back to the car, where I pulled out a romance novel that was obviously a bit too mature for me, and walked over to an open area. I sat on a bench and started to read, ignoring everyone else.


The sun was suddenly blocked by a figure and I looked up to see a boy who's skin was kissed by the sun, with shaggy brown hair and hazel eyes that sparkled in the sun. He was tall and shirtless, his swimming trunks hanging on his hips. I sucked in a deep breath and set my book down, appalled that such a person would ever approach me. He smiled. "Come to the park, they just fixed the swings." That was the day when I realized that I didn't have to be so scared of people. He had taught me that but it probably didn't mean as much to him as it did to me.


I spent almost every waking minute with him, just hanging out, talking about nothing. Talking about everything. The way he looked at me, it was like he could see through everything. He sat and listened quietly as I told him my whole life story. I told him things that I couldn't even admit to myself. I cried, for the first time in a long time. I cried on his shoulder that was warm, hot even. But it was comfortable. He comforted me with a kiss. A kiss that was soft and sweet. A kiss that would permanently stick itself into my mind, creating such an illusion that felt so surreal. If it was a dream, then I never wanted to wake up. If this is a prank, please, whoever is behind it, don't ever end it. If I could freeze time, I would have. I would have stayed in that moment forever.


It was then, when he hesitantly pulled away, when I realized that I loved him. My first love. My only love. I smiled but he frowned. I wanted him to say 'I love you'. But he apologized instead. I wanted him to tell me that despite our age difference, he wanted to be with me. But he repeated over and over about how I was just a kid, and he was about to be eighteen. I wanted him to kiss me again. But he turned away and told me about his girlfriend. His girlfriend who was on her way up to Summer Falls. My heart sank slowly with every word he said. He told me, it was okay if I hated him. He explained that he didn't mean to, but, he liked me. But he had a girlfriend whom he planned to marry one day. He told me that he was sorry. Repeatedly.


But I couldn't be mad. I couldn't hate him. I couldn't even cry like they do in the soap operas. I couldn't do anything but sit and listen as he apologized. As soon as love came, it fled. All I could do was give a weak smile and say, "I understand. It's okay. We can be friends." I would have rather been friends than leave behind such a boy that changed me. I left. I went back to the lake house where my dad and Darcy were watching a movie. And for the first time, I felt sympathy for Darcy. I understood what it felt like to be the other woman. It was horrible. I broke down and cried. I cried in front of my father and in front of Darcy. I became the the person I hated most. I became like Darcy, taking a guy from another girl. But, my situation was worse for me. Even though we kissed and he admitted he liked me, he chose his girlfriend. I was rejected before I could even reveal my true feelings to him.


Four years had passed already since I came here to my dad’s summer lake house. I was seventeen, about to go to college in the autumn. My mother truly fell in love with a man whom I don't even know. She sends me pictures of their new dog, and their new house. She sends me pictures of them, of her new step-daughter whom I've only met once. She's moved on with her life. And she's happy. She's excited about being married to the man she loves so much.


My dad and Darcy are still married, and have been happily married. Darcy, who was the one who comforted me that night, revealed herself. She explained that she wasn't stupid. She understood my mean remarks and it hurt her. But she apologized for hurting me. She told me that her parents were divorced too. Her father had cheated on her mother. She promised herself that she would never do anything like that. But she had broken that vow. And it haunted her. She apologized, similar to the way Chase did. It was sincere. Filled with truth. We cried together. Darcy then went back to school. She got her teacher's degree and became a kindergarten teacher. My father became aware of why I was so detached, and he took many days off, just to talk to me, the two of us alone, going wherever I wanted to go. Slowly, but surely, we repaired what was damaged. He came to understand me so well. He knew exactly what I was thinking. Just like Chase.


I sighed and recalled the last time I saw him. It was labor day, and he had to get ready for college. He was about to leave, go back home to wherever that was. He never told me. We sat in the swings and tried to peel off our dead skin that was sunburned. He laughed every time I scrunched up my nose at the sight of the peeled skin.


“Gross.” I murmured, looking at my shoulders that were pink. Although it was still awkward, we stayed friends. Just like before, we hung out almost everyday. But now, his girlfriend was in the picture.


“I’m going to miss you.” He murmured, taking my hand into his. It was warm. I smiled sadly and nodded, pulling away. He bit on his lip. We both knew that I just wasn't ready for that kind of contact. Not yet.


“Don’t worry; you’ll be back next summer, right?” He smiled back and nodded.


“Of course, silly little girl, I’ll be back next summer.” He kissed my cheek and walked away, hand in hand with his girlfriend.
Then he was gone; never to return.


Just three weeks later, after he had left, he was in a car accident. His girlfriend had been drinking and they drove off a bridge. She was safe. But he was thrown through the glass and drowned. It was unfair, really. How she could walk away with a broken arm and some scratches but he, he was gone forever. I could no longer see him. But I placed the mask over my face once again. I pretended not to care. I didn't care that I couldn't show him that I wasn't the same lanky and clumsy thirteen year old girl. I didn't mind the fact that he wouldn't be able to see me as a pretty girl with sun kissed skin and naturally wavy brown hair. I didn't care anymore. But I couldn't lie to myself for long. I missed him. And I longed to see him one more time. But that was impossible.


I wiped away a tear and sighed, turning away and walking towards the old lake house where my boyfriend, Kyle, and my best friend, Alexandra were waiting. My mom had moved on. And my dad and Darcy had gotten past the rough exterior of me and even had a baby, my baby brother, Brandon. Even I had moved on. I’d never forget Chase and I’d always love the boy who slipped away from my grasp. Tonight, I’d peel away my sunburn and remember that I was leaving my love for him behind. And I’ll believe that he loved me too and that before he died, he was thinking of me.


I’ll believe that over anything any day.


© Copyright 2020 DanielaLikesTheSky. All rights reserved.

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