In the summer of 2003 I am 13 1/2 & still Mormon & every morning except Sunday I wake up at my aunt’s house & follow my seven cousins downstairs where we share a simple breakfast: grape jam on sourdough toast & drinks made of 1 part water, 2 parts Sunny Delight.
Before mixing with the “juice”—diluting it—the water floats above the yellow-orange surface like clouds passing over the sun in wisps. The 2 liquids eventually settle & look dull & bored together. The drink tastes tart & I sort of like it.
I consume only half & head outside to continue painting their fence. I don’t remember then or now if I’m actually asked to perform this task. I probably offered; this sounds like me, then & now. During long breaks between each painted picket I lay my back on the grass & the blades scratch my skin & my eyes feel warm, my vision marigold, as I absentmindedly stare only up.
At night, I try to get online. I wait for my turn after my cousins’ then patiently watch as the gold Running Man makes his way through 3 lilac squares. Dialing… Connecting… Connected!
& in that instant I hear—“Turn it off! You need a free line to call your mom!”