Faulkner could have written a short story about this heat – the heat and the spiders and the beer going down like a gulf sunset at 78 degrees past midnight – the t-shirt plastered to my back and the mosquito bites rimming my ankles.
What Faulkner would have done with my character is something to ponder. Maybe I’m more of a Tennessee Williams kind of girl.
Either way, I’m a careworn woman living alone in an old ramshackle house where the heat intensifies my age, coloring it with angry reds and slashes of orange. The arrival of midnight mutes those colors, moonlight softening to pink and tangerine, taking out the hard edges. I might be beautiful in this light.
The house is cooling down and this beer tastes like sweet relief.
The big white floor fan is just behind me. The sweat is drying, gritty and tight. My hair is damp and there’s a blister on my finger from scrubbing the lawn furniture – trying to keep the mildew at bay.
I succumbed and turned the dryer on for want of sweet towels. With the beer, the fan and 78 degrees past midnight, I think I can bear the heat of the dryer. The laundry room door is closed muffling the tumble of the dryer, muting it in the whirr of the fan.
I can smell the bleach I used in the house to battle the debris of a dirt road, the mold of a wet summer, and the joy of three small dogs.
The beer and the fan are deep pleasures..
The youngest of the old dogs is licking my arm. I lick to taste what she tastes. I’m salty from the heat and work of the day. A tepid shower and straightforward soap will strip my skin of the salt and the dirt and the honesty of a day spent in yard work, housework. Will sluice the worries of a ramshackle house and the cares of a woman who might have been a character in the story of an old, southern writer.
It’s 78 degrees past midnight and the beer tastes like redemption.