she buttoned her long nightdress and ran a brush slowly through her wavy, honey-colored hair. i felt my chest tighten, as it does every time she prepares to leave. there was that lump, the kind you try to swallow, because if you don't get rid of it, then a torrential downpour will quickly follow down your cheeks, the kind you can't stop even if you try. the kind that gives you a headache and makes your skin splotchy.
outside, it didn't feel like it was time. the thermometer on the porch read 85 degrees at 9 pm. it was sweltering. the kind of sticky hot that sits on you, envelops you, makes you feel like you can't breathe.
there is something about having to say good-bye. when she's here, i feel like time slows down, and sometimes not in good ways. she brings with her more discord, more boredom. but mostly she brings wonder and a good kind of lazy. more time for snuggles, family time, exploring, traveling, visiting, loving.
but no matter, it was time. this morning, she walked out that door, bags thrown over her shoulder, without even a glance back. then the bell rang, and she faded away, to return next june, when she would reemerge, popsicle and swimsuit in hand, laughter on her breath.