Amy Searle

Summer Time

Odd—how I continued going on about my desire for the heat of summer, for the thick of it (the stifling air and cindered body skin) all the while knowing that the heat was not what I craved, with embarrassing childlike desperation, in summer. The heat could not be it, because I spent so much time in summer hiding from it, scavenging out neat squares of shade, craving water, watching the grass in the park wither into a brown carpet and mourning the green that was there in winter, scolding every time the newswoman spoke about the oncoming heat wave with a kind of relish that ought to be reserved for the Beatles, or Judi Dench, or Billie Eilish, or—even Satre, if that’s what does it for you. What was it then, in summer, that made everything feel okay again? Maybe it was that it brought people out of hiding, out of the sacks they had spent the winter warming, their thoughts bombarding around their heads, simmering, stifling in some cases. In summer, the human spirit can be seen on every corner: the two old men by the lake, discussing Berlin housing prices. The lean man crossing his legs, turning his body towards the other, flirting as his toes scratched the water below. His cry of glee as the other mans dog jumped into the water after the ball. And again the second time it happened. It could be seen in the women by the blackcurrant bushes, admiring and stroking them, but refusing to pick the big juicy black things. So just stroking and walking along, and then smiling to each other every few steps. Or the house boat garishly decorated with plants and flowers, with a human-sized barbie doll staring out the window, and the owner calmly sitting beside the entrance on a plastic fold out chair, watching people pass by with a nonchalant but piercing gaze that said, ‘And what about it?’ Or the woman by the lake who said ‘Does anyone know what time it is—I have a watch but it has the wrong day and time’ and with this announcement, before anyone could reply, she let out a gleeful laugh, which was greedy, delicious; it announced itself without shyness or hesitation. And as it rolled out into the air, its starkness shunned judgement at her obviously silly remark, at her complete lack of respect for that ancient tradition of keeping the time—because how did time behave, anyway, at a time like this? Did it creep? Certainly, the pigeons sitting in the shade, the boats lazily making their way down the river, the soft hum of the fridge, begged it to creep. But time did not creep in summer. And neither did it fly. It sat, and watched, as you watched it. And how could it not be satisfied? How could it not be relieved, finally, as everyone danced around in the heat, their insides leaking out, simmering and then settling on the other lonely soul walking past, or talking to you, or maybe especially the one who lay silently next to you on the towel that brilliant hungover day. No, time did not creep or fly—time expanded in moments like these, and you felt that the bits of you which you were letting out were being kept somewhere, stored away, for someone or something else. That is what I craved in summer. 

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Amy Searle grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and subsequently moved to Manchester in the United Kingdom to pursue a degree in Physics. She now lives in Oxford. She is interested in writing Poetry and Creative Nonfiction, and in the case of Nonfiction her work aims to address, or just observe, some of the tensions and ironies of our modern society. She is particularly interested in the function of Art and Science in society.