The Heatwave

Her long, almond hair usually dances elegantly in the breeze, but today her once-wild wisps of baby hair are drenched with sweat and clinging to the damp skin on her forehead. She walks with a lazy conviction; slightly leaned back, and stroppily throwing one foot in front of the other in some kind of strange, exhausted protest against her sisters telling her to walk faster. She quietly acknowledges that they’re right. If she matches their pace, as requested, the shade of her house will be cooling her before she knows it. But she’s never going to tell them that. Admitting defeat would be an invitation for a day of teasing and torment, and she knew better than to open that can of worms.

The air is like warm caramel. She takes a second to wish that a breeze would congratulate her on making it this far down the street, but she soon takes to non-sensically flapping her hands in front of her face instead.

“That’s only going to make you hotter, you know,” her eldest sister jests.

She’s too hot to argue, and holds her hair into a nest on the top of her head as she walks. At least if her breeze surprises them soon, her neck would feel the benefit. She puffs her red cheeks out and exhales loudly, somewhat enjoying the contrast between her armpits being released and the concrete being nature’s heated flooring.

“It’s not long until we’re home now. Five more minutes,” her other sister says, placing a hand on her back encouragingly.

“I’m fine,” she squirms, before licking her flaking lips. “It’s… Lovely. We’ve not had properly sunny weather like this for ages.”

Her sisters’ eyes meet knowingly, and small, wry smiles spread across their faces.

“Go on, give us a hug then,” her eldest sister giggles, poking her ribs.

She looks pained, totally embarrassed that her sisters have clocked on her lie. Hugging her equally-as-sweaty sister was the last thing that she wanted to do right now, but like a child trying to fight off sleep in order to make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve, she steps forward and extends her arms, as though it is the bravest thing that she has ever done.

Her sister shakes her head, snorts, and takes both of her younger siblings’ hands in hers.

“I was joking. Come on. We’re nearly there.”

All three of them continue hand in hand for a while longer, certain that the road is melting and carrying their house further away from them as they walk. Eventually, their fingers start to slide against eachother, which allows small pools to form between their palms. One by one, they release each other from the chain that they have created, before wiping their hands on their thighs – trying to do so without the others noticing, so as not cause offence.

Suddenly, a door to the left of them unlocks and opens. It was once black, but it seemed to have greyed in the sun, which was also highlighting the smeared fingerprints on the living room window. A tall, bear-like man shuffles into the archway. He strokes his beard twice – once with each hand – and takes a sip of what looks like iced green tea with small, sliced strawberries in it. He had pulled his drink from somewhere behind him, before smiling at the sight of the girls’ red noses and cheekbones. Their freckles have come out in the sun, and he always thinks that they look beautiful on all three of them.

“God… It’s like a sauna out here today, isn’t it?” he chuckles. “All of your freckles are out!”

The three sisters haven’t moved any faster than a stroll the whole time they have been outside, but seeing their Dad provokes them to move into a slow jog.

“Ahhh,” they breathe happily, stepping inside the house.

 

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