Sweet Summer Regrets
by Muntaha Yashfee
The flowers smelt too sweet, the air too hot, and time too swift, always slipping out of reach. A portrait of a girl with honey hair and fine features, smiling like she had a secret, sat underneath a clock in the shape of a crescent moon. As my eyes copied the path of those gold hands, I felt myself drowning, second by second, and it wouldn’t be long before the top of my head just vanished. Actually it was as if I could feel the water, slowly trickling down my legs……
“Cara! Gosh your skirt is soaking wet, can’t you hold a cup still for once? Go clean up in the bathroom.”
I looked away from the clock and into the eyes of my disapproving mother, swiftly heading to the bathroom before the glare became something more.
As I scrubbed at the stain on my skirt, I noticed my skin looked particularly ivory today.
Looking in the mirror, it became obvious how much I’d thinned in the past few weeks, and I was starting to look gaunt. With that combined with my clothes, I looked like a phantom ghost girl, visiting my own funeral. I splashed my face with some water, hoping to make myself a little less dead-looking. And then it happened. As it touched my face, it wasn’t tap water anymore, but pool water, the water of a faint, distant memory. One full of sunshine, splashing and lemonade, and looking into deep green eyes as I was pulled into a kiss…..
I snapped myself out of it, and felt my breath become more sporadic. I walked over to the door to wipe myself with a towel. But it was no use. The towel disappeared as I was chased through a labyrinth of clothing lines, laughing as I was finally caught and lifted in the air. I grabbed onto the doorknob and tried to steady myself, as the ceiling began to spin, my chest feeling like the aftermath of a lifetime of cigarettes.
I dizzily walked into the nearest room, my knees falling onto the bed like dominoes. When I finally looked up, I saw a guitar, with maple wood and faded paint, but shiny steel strings. That was the end. I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, I saw the guitar, but something else too. I saw you, James.
In your hands was the same guitar, looking ancient and new at the same time. I asked you what you were doing. It was returned with a smile and a wink and you said “I guess it’s just a flash of inspiration.” A sweet melody pervaded the room as you began to strum.
“I know a girl called Cara, so sweet and kind and fair,
She dreams of being a writer, and has polka dotted underwear.”
I chuckled and you smiled again, and continued to sing some more, and although the lyrics were questionable, I felt like I was wrapped in an eternity of euphoria.
“….And if you ever meet her, she’ll make you feel so true,
I’m the luckiest person in the world, because Cara I love you.”
My heart skipped a beat as the words rang in my ear. When you looked up at me from under your fringe of dark lashes, I felt our whole summer flash by.
Riding our bikes towards the sunset, singing our favourite songs at the top of our lungs. Sharing strawberry ice cream and licking it off each other’s noses. Kissing in the dark, intoxicated by our youth. It was meant to be just a summer fling. Experimenting, trying something new. But somewhere along the way, something happened. My heart was freed from its cage, and told me it was yours.
You took my hand and looked at me, with those heartbreaking eyes of spring and said “Cara, I’m in love with you, so deep that it’s impossible to escape it. So I want us to be for real. I want the world to know. Know that no one could be happier than me because you’re mine.”
In that moment I swear I forgot how to breathe. My heart was in my throat and I wanted to scream yes, yes to everything because I loved you even more.
But all that came out was “I can’t.”
“What do you mean?’
I swallowed a breath as I said “I mean, you can’t be serious. Imagine if everyone at school found out. Hell, imagine if my parents found out!”
The joy in your face was replaced by a shadow of disappearing hope. “Cara-”
“Look James, this was meant to be a summer fling, and it’s only ever going to be. We can’t. It would never work out. I’m sorry.”
The shadow darkened as you reached over and cupped my cheek. “I love you Cara, and I know you feel the same way. I do. Look, we can work this out.”
You kissed me, soft and slowly, hands gently stroking my hair. I wanted to stay in that moment forever, but instead I pulled away and sighed. “Just go, James.”
“Please Cara I-”
“Leave.” I softly pushed you away, and this time you didn’t fight back. You looked at me one last time as you turned around and walked out the door, disappearing into the cool night. I turned around to walk to the stairs, trying to push down the regret and sadness brimming at the edge of my heart. But when I reached them, I knew this was wrong. It couldn’t end this way.
I rushed out the door, running barefoot on cold pavement as I called after your car. The window rolled down and your face came out, full of surprise. “Cara?”
“James! Oh James, I’m sorry, I…..wait James look out!”
A car suddenly came swerving down the road, and before you could look away from me and to the front, it was over. It was the most horrifying sound I’d ever heard. The air in my lungs evanesced as I screamed and ran over, but it was too late. Time was never my friend.
“I’m deeply sorry for your loss.” my mother said, as Mrs Evans cried into her husband’s shoulders. She hadn’t stopped since she’d found out, and didn’t seem like she ever would. As I watched her small frame shake with despair, I wanted to tell her it was my fault. That this would’ve never happened if it weren’t for me. Instead, I reached for the portrait of the honey haired girl and kissed it softly as I whispered:
“I’m sorry James.”