Summer, as beautiful and sweet and horny and damn near translucent as she is, is nevertheless completely off her rocker. She has slept with virtually every guy in The Village — including, I think, Floyd, although I haven’t had the courage to find out yet — and yet there are some things she won’t tell me. She won’t say whether she’s ever been in love, or whether she’s ever had her heart broken, or whether any of her many consorts has been crazy enough to propose to her.
But one night not long ago, as we were lying on a thin scrap of blanket in the sand on South Tip beach, she told me what she dreams about every night.
Given her penchant for bodily fluids and used sheets, I had a couple of guesses, neither of which I shared with her. The first guess was that her idea of Nirvana involved rolling in a huge pile of cocaine with the entire cast of the Cirque du Soleil, but then I figured that she would lust after something more dramatically different from her daily grind. So then I pictured her fantasy swinging like Poe’s pendulum far away from the sleepy hours she spent playing with stones. This time, I figured that she would be dressed in something white — a color that both tradition and the lack of a washing machine made pretty well impossible for her in The Village. She’d be living in some classy villa in the south of France, wearing velvet gloves and long skirts, her hair washed to a shine and pulled back in a tight and respectable frame. She’d be outstandingly wealthy, with guest houses tucked back off the driveway and horses snorting in the stables off to the north. Her verandah would command a dazzling view of the Mediterranean, and she would have a score of pretty and docile maids to wait on her every whim. She would be married, of course, to some lower-level member of the fading European aristocracy, but he would spend his time hunting in Africa or racing gleaming machines in the Grand Prix. She would fill her days with painting and the reading of intricate poetry. On occasion, she would translate the great literature of the Western world into Swahili or Portuguese or Inuktitut — and in rare moments of inspiration, she would translate the great literature of the Maasi or the Basque or the Inuit into English and French.
But those are my guesses. Her actual dream would never have occurred to me: In her dream world, she’s a foster mother.
No kidding. A foster mother. In this fantasy, she lives in the suburbs of Portland, which is a terrific city but hardly the south of France, and she takes in foster kids for a year or two each. At any given time, she has a dozen of them running around the house — all ages, all colors, all sexes, all grins and complications and wonder and madness. The older ones help babysit and raise the younger kids, wiping their noses and their butts and their egos. There’s a duty roster taped to the kitchen wall, outlining whose job it is to cook and wash the dishes and vacuum the living room. The TV is on 24/7, flashing images of Homer and Bart, and detectives in squealing squad cars, and Veronica discovering that she is having Ryan’s baby even though he’s been in a Viagra-induced coma for fifteen months. The sound is low, and the shows never stop. Any kid who has finished her homework and taken a shower and completed her chores and tucked the younger ones into bed is free to watch whatever she wants.
And over this colossal din, this cosmic thrum of activity and interaction, finding lost retainers and replacing lost dreams, plugging the peepholes in the shower and throwing out the girlie magazines that line the mattresses, stemming the flow of blood when induced by violence and discussing the flow of blood when induced by hormones, is Summer, ever calm and strong and reliable. She is unmarried and unconcerned about the dubious deal that men offer. She is committed only to the children, and the swarm of her graduates who live in the Portland area and visit on Sundays serves as a testament to her inspiration and her composure.
Summer didn’t say so, but I think in this fantasy she’s stout. I imagine her in an apron, her thick waist and strong arms freckled in a pale calico dress. She can roll a stubborn knob of dough into cheery heart-shaped cookies with one hand, while in her other she is lifting a twelve-year-old off the floor for a hug. She can pull the quills from a porcupine-bothered hound dog, and she knows how to wire a muffler onto the bottom of a rusting minivan. She has firm teeth and a withering handshake. She reads to her brood every night, in a succession from picture books about talking animals after dinner through real-life stories about attempts on Everest to the older set at ten. And when they’re all tucked in and asleep, she snips green beans and scrubs ovens and sharpens knives and sews patches on screen doors until her plump, throbbing ankles force her into an easy chair for some wine and a few pages of a scandalous romance novel before bed.
And I don’t think her name is Summer, in this fantasy. For that matter, I don’t think her name is Summer in the real world, either. But in her dream life, I think she’s Jenny or Kate or Melissa — something simple and wholesome and non-hooker-like.
She tucked her feet under my leg and pressed close to me for warmth. The blanket was moth-holed and weak, and the sea breeze was chilly. She seemed to enjoy just lying there, talking about dreams and hopes and other impossibilities. I have to admit I enjoyed it, too, nestled with this scrawny, cheerful little tramp on a beach overlooking the dark and pounding sea. It made me feel like I could somehow protect her from the injuries and disappointments of this world.
“Want to go to the Pad, Dan?” she murmured. “I think you’re cute.”
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — BinoMan211: Man you have boring fantasies. Couldn’t you at least have her in France surrounded by nubile, submissive maids who attend to her every need, if you know what I mean?
Comment — WomynFire982: oh, grow up, binobrain.
Comment — Gemstone: I think Summer’s story shows how everyone has a dream. Even people who seem lost or sad somehow. The trick to being fully human is to look through the surface and discover the spirit that lies inside.
Read previous blog entries in the Island Wars story by clicking here.