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Shattered Landscape

I’m pumping gas in the summer sun but the only gallons I can think about are the gallons of sweat that I’m sweating although it doesn’t make a difference anyhow and there are no good movies out and the flock in the sky has wandered to float far away above the mountains so there’s nothing to stop anyone from frying an egg or themselves on the sidewalk. The dull lifeless hot air is not stimulated until a breeze awakens but the breeze is even hotter and the skating rink is closed for refurbishment and the darned pump isn’t working so I collapse into the driver’s seat and pull forward to try the next pump which I don’t think is encouraged but I’m too hot to think. The blue of the sky is a hazy blue because of the smog and I’d get an electric car because I don’t want to contribute to the pollution or keep dealing with this pump which isn’t working either but I can’t afford one and I can’t afford Disneyland but I couldn’t really send Anna there anyway in this heat plus there’s no one to send her there with either.

My mom is outside cussing at the gas pump like it’s Dad and I’m in the car and can almost hear my skin sizzling because the car is like an opposite freezer in the summer when the sun is shining and the air conditioning is off and my life stinks. Ms. Hawthorne always pointed out that I write a lot of run-on sentences but my mom says that’s okay because most people think in run-on sentences and writing is supposed to express thoughts. I don’t know if she’s right but I do know she was right when she told Joel not to ride his bike in the street and I think she was wrong when she said some things I won’t repeat about Dad. Joel looked just like Mom and so do I but I wish I didn’t and she spends most of every summer trying to figure out how to get me out of the house because I’m always home then since I have no friends to hang out with but she doesn’t really care about that. Or me, for that matter. She fought hard for visitation rights and won them but I can’t help but think that it was only out of spite because she was so angry at Dad. I think she still is but she hardly ever talks about him and he doesn’t talk about her either when I come on weekends. I don’t think either of them really, truly miss Joel, but I do because he understood me and we could share a look every time Mom made a lame joke. He had dark eyes like mine and Mom’s but that was before he got mowed over by a pickup truck which was before the divorce back when Mom made a lot of jokes and still loved Dad and me. The driver was texting. I don’t have a phone and I don’t want one now anyway. I saw what was left of Joel’s bike after the collision which was just a mess of twisted metal but I didn’t see Joel and I didn’t want to anyway. There were only a few people at the funeral because Joel and I have only one aunt and one uncle and one cousin and Joel has no friends which just goes to show how much we have in common. Had, I guess. He was nine. I was eleven, twelve now, lonely and very, very hot, baked by California sun like a few million other fools.

I wonder when Mom will give up on kicking the pump.

Sydney Burr
Sydney Burr, 13
Chino, CA

Leah Koutal
Leah Koutal, 12
Wayne, PA