KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Memoir: 745 words


by Beth Bilderback

Not winter, when our private bodies live cozy in our coats, our naked faces exposed to the starry sky and snap of wind, but the season when air is like the body, the temperature of perfect bathwater, a mosquito cloud rising eagerly to take aim at my feet as I water the plants at dusk, heated molecules rising up to rest lightly on my forearms, summer neck and bare shoulders, the desire to lie on top of the blanket with the sheet folded back, the craving for ceiling fans. The season when I don’t mind a little

corn silk between my teeth and will stand in front of the open fridge eating blueberries in my underwear, the pure delight of fresh summer tomatoes on plain white bread with mayonnaise, obscenely juicy peaches eaten over the sink, the planting of lavender and basil, thyme and mint, geraniums and petunias and lantana, a lemony citronella plant that might ward off the biting insects and make sitting on the porch swing possible. The season when the new flyswatter is named Swift Swat with instructions in three languages, and

my son Eli and his friend burst into the house, bringing with them gentle waves of boy stink, and rush to stand inches from the air conditioner, eyes closed, hair blown back, with the same ecstatic expression as the prize winning llama I once saw standing regally in the sweltering livestock barn at the Texas State Fair, its languid face as close to the humming breeze of the stick fan as it could get. The season when sweat,

the creeping perspiration that begins in May and ends sometime in late September, turns from a light glaze to something far damper as I mow the lawn, little bursts of insects and grass foam shooting up in front of me; dust swirls like the miniature tumbleweeds that bloom in Texas, rolling down the main streets of exhausted little towns baking under the relentless sun, the sun in a sky bigger than a planet, a sky that is its own gigantic galaxy of heat and light and sunsets burning holes in your eyes, a state with no gentleness, driving through towns named Turkey and Wisdom and Canyon, the daily sunsets painting their way over the horizon, slashes of violent purple, orange, red. The season of my childhood magnolia tree,

with its boat-shaped waxy leaves and creamy sweet smelling flowers, the star of our front yard, edging out the old-lady crape myrtles with their papery blossoms, and the saloon girl of a camellia bush with its soft, red, overblown blooms, our majestic magnolia dominated in scale and scent, a woman of substance and adventure, a windy night, an open boat, a hat like a sail. The season of gin and tonics, the one cocktail

taught me by my father—first the gin, then 1/4 of a lime, squeezed then dropped, into the glass, followed by tonic, then ice cubes—and the memory of a magical G&T drunk overseas, concocted by a sexy Italian mixologist at a botanical cocktail popup in the center of London’s Kew Gardens, the narrow frosted tumbler, the thin slice of cucumber garnish, we sipped blissfully at a tiny table and a small British child in rain boots tiptoed across the landscape, stalking a peacock. The season when

Drew, the ten-year-old neighbor boy crosses the street to stare adoringly at me, the one adult who will always listen, before plunging into an endless story that always begins “One time....” then rambling through his adventures over hill and dale and parking lot, a bicycle careening through myriad cul de sacs, the chairs he thought were strong enough to leap off of, and the trees that got in the way, resulting, inevitably, in some sort of bodily harm, which he lifts a pant leg or rolls up a sleeve to proudly present for my appraisal. The season I always spent in Charlottesville

between college semesters, working university catering jobs in black polyester uniforms called “Fifis” and “Pierres” with the cool kids who introduced me to Talking Heads, listening to the daily thunderstorms that rolled in, leaving the town in a stifling haze of humidity shimmering up from the sidewalks until the next storm rolled in to take its place, buying my first cookbook, hearing Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue for the first time, losing my virginity while Simon and Garfunkel played on the boom box, seeing through far younger, less seasoned eyes.

Beth Bilderback
Issue 6, Fall 2016

is a writer who lives in Norfolk, Virginia, where she is still trying to learn how to juggle. Her nonfiction appears in The Lascaux Review.

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