Excerpt: Summer in Streetsboro

Summer in Streetsboro: hot and humid and hateful, this is nobody’s favorite weather. There’s a quality in the summer sunlight here that, like fluorescent lighting, seems to lay bare some essential ugliness inside of whatever it touches. Everything looks flat, angular, laid out in sickly yellows and blinding whites. Look at the sunbaked roads, pitted, with long stitches of tar covering up the cracks; the little lawns, either mottled and half-dead or artificially lush; the corrugated industrial brickwork of warehouses and big box stores and gas stations baking in the insane light. The sky looks stunned and flat white, like a mirror catching the sun full-on. Sunlight pollutes everything so completely that even a clear blue sky looks as white as clouds.

Sometimes, on that immaculate, maddening surface, a bruise will bloom: the start of a storm. People walking back across the parking lots with grocery bags hooked on their fingers, or flipping through a People at the Great Clips, or filling up their pockmarked car at Sheetz, or walking their dog past a neighbor’s house, fussing over their pet, trying to politely not make eye contact – they’ll all look up at a flicker of lightning, or turn at the sound of thunder bowling its first frame, and under ancient obligation will look around and find some stranger to break the silence with and say:

“Looks like it’s gonna rain.”

“Weatherman said it might.”

Then the rain will drop like a stage curtain, and you can hear the trees catching its million blows on their leaves, the thunder and the slow tear of cars over wet roads, and behind everything the rain’s authoritative static; then it’ll slow and slow and finally stop, and the hidden sun will infect the thinning clouds again, and sometimes a haze will rise with the petrichor and haunt the few low places briefly, like a ghost with some little business left here on earth, and the trees, wherever progress has permitted them to be left standing (usually at the corners of minor intersections, or in thin lines in the neighborhoods, dividing lawn from lawn) the trees will drool for hours, and it won’t be any cooler.

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