Happy first day of summer, everyone! ☀️
Today’s post is going to be a little different from usual – I’m going to be sharing a short story! I actually wrote this story two summers ago, then set it aside and forgot about it for a while. Recently, I discovered it and decided to rewrite it. About a month later, I found a local literary magazine that was open to submissions. I decided to turn in the story, and to my extreme surprise, they accepted it!
This is the first time I’ve ever had anything published, and even though the magazine isn’t widely acclaimed or anything, I’m still really thankful that I got this opportunity! 😀
I decided to post the story for you guys to read. I don’t post writing that often, so I’m interested to hear everyone’s thoughts! I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
• r e f i l l •
It’s a drowsy, sun-drenched August afternoon in the south.
I’m sitting in the backseat of a blue pickup truck, deep in thought as the world whirs by.
We’re rolling down a tiny country lane. The shade provided by wilting stands of pines is occasionally interrupted by the wide open space of a trailer park. It’s unbearably hot.
Vibrant green fields of cotton and peanuts blur outside the truck’s window as I shift my legs to make more room for the plastic shopping bags that are piled at my feet. We’ve been running errands all afternoon, just my mom and I, and I’m finding myself with less and less leg room as the day goes on.
Despite the limited space, I’m enjoying the ride. The truck’s engine makes a rough, comforting sort of sound and I like the way the rubber tires crunch against the asphalt.
Suddenly my mother’s voice breaks the peaceful silence.
“Oh dear. I don’t think that’s supposed to happen.”
I lean forward to see that she’s pointing to a small gauge on the truck’s dashboard that’s labeled OIL PRESSURE. The tiny red arrow is racing toward zero. She sighs, “We’d better stop.”
We slow down and pull into the dusty, overgrown parking lot of a tiny white church with stained-glass windows. My mom pulls the keys out of the ignition and climbs out to investigate. As the engine stops whirring, the last cool wisps of air conditioning fade, and stifling air fills the small cab. I unbuckle my seatbelt and push the doors open, hoping to cool myself off. It doesn’t help much.
The open hood of the truck obscures her from my view, but I can hear my mother’s tired and worried voice as she talks with my dad on her cell phone. Her words echo loudly in the empty parking lot as the decision is made – she and I will walk 8 blocks to the nearest gas station and buy oil for the thirsty engine.
She pushes the hood shut with a bang and and swings her purse over her shoulder. “This should be an adventure.” I slide off the hot leather seat and my feet hit the ground hard, creating small clouds of dust that billow up around my shoes.
I push the truck doors closed and we head for the tiny, cracked sidewalk that winds closely along the side of the road. The air is still and hot and thick and I can see little heat waves shimmering on the road ahead of us, always dancing just out of reach as we begin our journey down the narrow path.
The glaring sunshine reflects off of the sides of passing cars and into my face. I blink and shield my eyes with my hand, wishing that I hadn’t left my sunglasses behind. Nearly everyone waves good-naturedly as they pass. No one seems to be in much of a hurry today.
The walk to the gas station is mostly grassy fields and cracked roads. At one point, we pass a tiny, dilapidated house with broken windows and a gaping hole in the roof. A rusty car is parked in the overgrown driveway, and some plastic toys are scattered across the front porch. Torn curtains flutter in the shattered windows. I wonder if there’s anyone inside.
At last, we round a final corner and the gas station comes into view. It’s a tiny building with a red-and-blue-striped sign that stands out sharply against the greens and browns of the surrounding landscape. We cross the road and enter the small parking lot, which is empty except for two old cars and a single plastic bag being pushed along by a breeze. Two gas pumps stand in the middle of the lot, unused and lonely.
Our feet are sore, our clothes are damp, and my loose hair is stuck to the back of my neck, wet with sweat. As we near the store, I can see that the outside walls of the building were once painted white, but they’ve long since faded to a dirty gray. Bright neon signs advertising cigarettes, soda, and low prices are plastered onto the crowded windows.
I push the glass door open. A bell rings cheerily above my head, a cool rush of air hits my face, and my nose tingles as I breathe in the sharp smells of lemon cleanser, sweet tobacco, 99 cent hot dogs, and bitter, burnt coffee.
I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude for air conditioning as the door swings shut behind me with another jingle of its bell. The thick, hot summer air is replaced by the coolness of the tiny store. I stand unmoving and take deep breaths of the cold air – it feels so wonderful that I wouldn’t mind standing there forever.
I wander further into the tiny store and find my mother standing by the Icee machine, a bottle of engine oil in her hand. She smiles. “You want a drink?”
I nod as I realize just how thirsty I am. We take paper cups from the stack on the counter and plastic lids from a dented cardboard box, and I notice a yellow sticky note reading OUT OF ORDER on the cherry-flavored ice. The red cylinder has stopped spinning and I can see the mixture melting inside.
I reach for the lever below the whirring blue cylinder and push it down hard. A rough grinding sound comes from inside the machine and the icy drink quickly fills the paper cup. I can feel its wet coldness seeping through the sides and chilling my fingers.
We hand the drinks and oil to the tired-looking woman behind the counter. She unwraps a stick of gum, pushes it into her mouth, and rings up our purchase while her jaw moves in a slow, rhythmic motion. When she finishes counting the change, she hands us our drinks, smiles, and calls us both “sugar”. Her voice is slow and sweet and muffled by the chewing gum. She draws out the “u” sound in in a lazy, unhurried sort of way.
I take a sip of the drink as we walk out the door. The cold, sugary ice melts in my mouth and chills my throat. It feels wonderful in the sudden heat. The sign inside claimed the drink to be “blue raspberry”, but I’ve had raspberries and they taste nothing like this. This is sweet and soft and shockingly cold, not warm and bumpy and bitter.
We cross the road and follow the narrow sidewalk. The journey back to the church doesn’t seem quite as long, not now that we have something cold in our hands and the promise of a working truck to take us safely home. The sun begins to set behind us and the sky becomes a pastel masterpiece, rose and lavender and dozens of other shades applied perfectly onto a canvas of faded blue.
I watch as the light from the setting sun washes everything with gold. It makes the whole world seem beautiful – even the dirty house with the torn curtains and broken window panes. As we walk and talk and watch the colors of sky, I count the cracks in the sidewalk and lean down to pull a smiling yellow dandelion from between them.
This time, when someone in a passing car waves to us, I wave back.
I hope you enjoyed that! I would absolutely love to hear your feedback in the comments below – the thoughts and ideas of others are what help me to become a better writer! 🙂 If you’d like, you can read some of my other writing here and here.
Have a beautiful day, everyone! ❤
What are some of your favorite summer memories?
P.S: There’s only a few more days until I announce the winner of the enormous Creativeqube Design bundle!! Click here to enter the giveaway if you haven’t already – you won’t want to miss it! 😀