It’s been a hot, dry two months on Pine Street. The cool damp spring seems as distant a memory as Franny’s first dinner party. As distant as the childhood holidays each friend can recall vividly, or dimly. As distant as the shadow of a curtain on a window, the sound of voices speaking in heavy accents or other languages in another room.
As distant as the childhoods of grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, their own stories fading as elegantly as black and white photos in an old album.
Today, our friends strain to recall the chilly nights and damp mornings, even as they know the seasons are about to shift again.
Gardens and street trees are stressed from the arid days. Dogs pant, and cats hide themselves away in the shade of scrubby shrubs, or stay indoors.
Birds sing and swirl in the sky, seemingly unaffected; or perhaps, are they quieter in the long hot afternoons than they were in spring, and will be in autumn?
Autumn is sending out its advance scouts, already, leaving their trails in darker early mornings, later sunrises, earlier sunsets. The longer dark hours should cool things down more, but the friends do not feel it. Houses and apartments are nearly as warm at six a.m. as they were when windows finally opened again around nine p.m.
The newly-found lovers and the veteran couples alike find themselves fighting the lethargy that comes with heat and humidity.
Franny takes afternoon naps, something she never used to do, and her naps are filled with fleeting dreams, scraps of the day’s anxieties showing themselves in dreams of missed buses, flooding toilets, lost opportunities.
Then, one muggy Saturday, she wakes suddenly, snapping from doze to full awareness in seconds.
She dreamt of being pregnant, a dream so vivid her hand strokes her belly, unconsciously checking for swelling life there.
Three times before in her adult life, Franny dreamt this dream. Each time, her life turned upside down within a month of waking from it.