If September had a voice, it would be soft and ashy. It would speak in whispers because that is how goodbyes are best spoken, though sometimes they are best not spoken at all. When September says goodbye to summer, they part ways on a night when it’s suddenly cool enough to leave the windows open.
Summer was languid, and you liked that about her. She had this pout. Her blue eyes were the ocean. Her tan skin the wet sand. Summer looked great in a bikini. But summer is only a fling every year. Goes fast, never lasts. Damn pencil cases and notebooks in the back-to-school aisles. Damn Halloween candy in the middle of August. We didn’t swim enough and we didn’t cookout enough and we didn’t visit that amusement park like we said we would. Damn. It’s the word at the end. The only word that’s left. When you forget the one thing on your list at the grocery store. When your team loses a game they should have won. When you miss her. Damn. Damn.
You wanted something long-term? Want to hunker down and settle in for the long-haul? Try January. Lasts forever. Frozen tundra. Ice queen. She never melts, either. Just piles up and turns gray and sludgy and lasts ’til March. She’s harsh, staunch, and you’re fat and pale. You’ll go well together. She’s stone-cold sober, too—not like her sister December whose nose is always tell-tale red. December’s alright though. She’s fun and smells like cinnamon and cloves, even if sometimes she pees the bed when she’s drunk, ho, ho, ho.
Fall is another lover altogether. She is red and rust, oranges and cream. She likes to hold hands and her palms don’t get sweaty. She’s naturally pretty without even trying. Not a knock-out. Not a stunner. Just pretty, and sometimes you think she’s beautiful. Fall likes to wear over-sized sweaters and loose-fitting shirts underneath, everything baggy and hanging off and hiding her body which you never see anyway. She wears those layers like a puzzle that you can never really peel away. An onion.
Onions sometimes grow flowers on them. It’s called bolting. It happens when the plant is under stress. Bolting, you think, is the right word. But bolt to where? The arms of winter? No thanks. Besides, you’re not the type to bolt. So get a pair of gardening shears and cut it off. You had these neighbors whose dog had a tumor and they did just that. The dog was old and mossy and looked half-way mummified. It was named Cuddles, a name that aged as well as an old person with a tattoo.
Oh come on, it’s fall. You love her. Really, you do. Enjoy Halloween and football and other creature comforts. Hug a gourd. Make something with squash and breathe it in. Fall is great at baking pies. She bakes them when she’s pissed off at you. She fights silently like that. Passive-aggressive apple pie is her specialty. It gets dark early. She goes to bed early. Most things in life are never as beautiful as you imagine them.
If summer had stuck around just a little longer—there was that one mid-September day where it was eighty-eight degrees, not a chance of rain, and you can’t get your mind off of it. Not a damn cloud. So you went one last time to the beach. To rekindle it, to remember, and really, just to see her in that bikini one more time. That was a great day. The air smelled like salt and oil and sand. A blob of jellyfish washed up. Some seashells, too. Just broken ones. All the good ones are always taken by now. A drifter tried to sell you a flower he made from a dead palm leaf.
Sometimes it’s that one random detail that stays in your head forever. Like a dead palm leaf flower. Forget it. Nuke your brain. Zap it. Pan-fry it lightly and serve it with calamari with parsley and garlic. Go out for a while. Go for a cigarette. Go for a jog. Run out those demons. Better run ‘em out now because they’ll come back by the middle of winter. They always do.
Spring will come around soon enough. She’s young and daring. All sundresses and stark-white kneecaps. All blonde hair and baby fat. An awkwardness that she can’t hide very well. It’s endearing, actually. Makes you smile for the first time since February. Somehow she stays the same age every year but you keep getting older. Seems like she rains everyday. Real flair for drama. Locks herself in the bathroom and says she’s going to kill herself, but she never has yet.
In like a lion, out like a lamb, on a night when it’s suddenly warm enough to leave the windows open. They scream and creak from not being opened in months, settled in and expanded and paunchy. These old windows are big babies, and one day, you swear you’ll replace them, if only the window salesmen weren’t so weird and pushy.