The cycle came back around, started over, and as with magical things, August returned with the wind. A warm wind, no doubt, but one that glided with frost clinging to its hind; a cold that fell off at the last moment, just before wrapping you up.
Miss Lapolla considered the coming school year and made deals with her dread. She plotted her stress. She scheduled her joy. Sprawled on the sofa, television talking, she silent and waiting. For what? – well, we know how kids can be. Miss Lapolla more than most. She missed the mountains, the north, she mourned the loss of all things summer sweat. Miss Lapolla wanted a hug. She threw the small blanket over her body, a poor excuse for an embrace.
The ice cream man, in his icy, sugary truck, stocked up on his final hauls of frozen treats, eating two scoops for every one he sold.
The poor little marsh dogs were eager to get in as many walks as possible before the sidewalks were too cold for their delicate paws. Oh how they longed to be like the rich brownstone dogs, with their doggie boots, tied tightly upon their feet. How they strolled without a care in the snow of January!
In this neighborhood, where the fall feeds the leaves yellow possibly earlier than elsewhere, the good kids suited their backs up with fresh packs, filled the bags with infinitely paged notebooks and binders, such things a kindergartner should never need, but, in fact, do. And the bad kids, the scrapers, the thieves, and the ones beat by the people who feed them, they were lucky if the holes in their backpacks didn’t grow into canyons during the summer. Certainly they’d be showing up at school sans pencils.
And with mentioning the leaves, we come to the trees, which in the night, wondered and discussed amongst themselves their predictions of what autumn would bring.
‘When will be the first hurricane? When the last?’
‘My leaves! Mine will redden first!’
‘You’ll be yellow well into November! Remember last year? Har-har-har-har!’
Miss Lapolla woke in her bed, sitting up.
‘What’s wrong?’ asked her man, dreams heavy in his voice.
‘I can’t listen to those trees talking all night,’ she huffed.
Her man turned over, facing the wall. He yawned. ‘Whattaya want me to do? Should I say something?’
‘I can if you don’t want to.’
‘No,’ he said, rousing himself from bed, ‘I’ll just ask them to be quiet.’
Miss Lapolla stood. ‘I’ll come with you. They won’t listen to you.’
Her man laughed.
At the parlor window, Miss Lapolla peeked out at the trees, which were talking quite robustly.
‘Hey!’ she hissed.
The trees went on speaking, ignoring her.
‘Hey!’ she snarled. ‘Can you be quiet?’
The trees ceased their chatter and turned to stare at Miss Lapolla in the window frame.
‘I haven’t been able to sleep all night! All day you’re silent –‘ She turned to her man and added, ‘As trees should be,’ and nodded, curtly, before turning back to the trees. ‘ – and you talk all night! I can’t sleep!’
The trees lowered their branches as their shoulders, ashamed at their behavior, ashamed to have upset Miss Lapolla so. They didn’t speak another word through the night.
And Miss Lapolla found the sleep she needed, while August promised sweltering nights. Her man tossed under the blanket, drooling for a last scoop of summer’s ice cream. Something with deadly chocolate. Something to make him fatter. He giggled in his slumber.
‘Quiet…’ Miss Lapolla whispered, but she found herself smirking.