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Last Blueberries of Summer

Perhaps they don’t notice her, just as I never noticed her before the moment she sat down beside me, popping a blueberry into her mouth.

Story by Samantha Eliot Stier - sam@samanthastier.com Photos by Muge Karamanci
Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Barbecue smoke slips around the bleached curls of her hair as she pops another blueberry between her front teeth. Purple blood pools in the crease of her bottom lip. I’m too close. I lean back and take a swig of beer. Don’t want her to think I’m looking. Don’t want Joanie, over by the pool, to notice either.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Joanie said we would just “stop by” for a “quick bite” and to “say hi”. We’ve been here three hours and I’m five beers deep, buzzing in the hard sunlight. Why don’t these people have umbrellas? Or lawn chairs? I’m on the grass, my forehead dripping and sparkling with cancerous rays.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

The girl—woman, I should say—is the Howsams’ daughter, back from her first year of college. She’s wearing the smallest of white bikinis, and I wonder if this makes her parents uncomfortable. Perhaps they don’t notice her, just as I never noticed her before the moment she sat down beside me, popping a blueberry into her mouth. She offers me one from the plastic container. “Last blueberries of summer,” she says.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

I shake my head. Why can’t I remember her name? I know it starts with an A. April? Amy? Or was it something more exotic, like Athena or Ariadne? No, the Howsams are not that imaginative. I hear Joanie laugh by the pool. It is a familiar laugh, gravelly, reliable. It makes me feel safe, reminds me that we are a unit. We will leave together, and hopefully soon.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

The Howsam girl whose name I can’t remember shakes barbecue smoke from her pinkish blond hair. There’s a purple blueberry drip on her breast, dangerously close to the white bikini top. I suppose it would be inappropriate for me to wipe it off. I could mention it to her, but then she would know I’d been looking.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

With the strange sensation of waking suddenly from an afternoon nap, I realize she is speaking to me. “Yes?” I say to the blueberry drip.

“… How Sarah’s doing?”

The last thing I want to think about at this moment is my daughter. “Oh, fine,” I tell her, hoping that Sarah does not own a bikini like this.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

The Howsam girl looks up at the sun. She isn’t wearing sunglasses. I am afraid she will burn her eyes and am about to warn her, but then she looks back at me. “I’m not cut out for college,” she says.

“Nobody’s cut out for college. You just do it. So you can get a good job.” My words come slow and clunky.

“I’m not cut out for a job.”

“Sure you are. What are you interested in?”

She sighs. “Nothing, really.”

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

I finish my beer. If the sun gets any brighter, everything will disappear. “What are you interested in?” she asks me. She puts another blueberry in her mouth. I watch it pop and spurt between her teeth. It’s too hard to focus. I shut my eyes, but the blueberry is still there, flashing purple against my eyelids. “I don’t know.” She laughs. It sounds unfamiliar, soft, girlish; nothing like Joanie’s.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

When I open my eyes again, she is running over to the pool. I watch her dive in. The blueberry drip on her chest turns the entire pool a bright purplish blue, her white bikini shimmering as she glides beneath the water, a silvery marlin. The pool seems to be very far away. Even with a great deal of effort, I don’t think I could make it over there.

It’s hot. Beneath me, the grass is stiff and scratchy. I look for Joanie and signal to her that I’m ready to leave.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

5 Responses to “Last Blueberries of Summer”

  1. Ebru says:

    Very fun story and great photos. Wants you pop the last blueberry of the summer and see what happens…thank you CBK

  2. Jane says:

    Really beautiful photos.

  3. Pat Keating says:

    Simply beautiful writing…from the first sentence…

  4. Samantha Stier says:

    Thank you for your kind comments! You can check out more of my writing here: http://samanthastier.com/

Add your comment to Ebru