the light is hot and gold, spilling across our faces.
daytime sunshine burnt our cheeks and our foreheads, but now the sun is dying, cooling, seeping like a wound across the skyline. the air stays thick and humid, unmoving. our little bodies sweat. i am eight, my brother and sister are six.
then the sprinklers erupt with a sizzling, tired hiss. crumbs of cold water scatter in sharp rivulets against the red of the sky. they pelt our skin, suddenly, shockingly. droplets are like metal coins against our chests, dripping down our arms, from our fingertips.
squeals of delight shoot through the drowsy neighbourhood. they dip between the eucalypts. through nan’s parched flower bushes. across the road. our naked skin slides against each other as we dance, slimy, soft. my grandparents watch us from the red brick porch.
the grass is orange and scorched and sharp and stinging the skin of our bare feet. but it softens as the sprinklers turn the ground to mud. my brother yelps, and retrieves a prickle that has burrowed into the cranny between his two littlest toes. the world smells like steaming asphalt roads and wilting buildings. it tastes like arid australian summer in suburbia, before the country went officially into drought: of the sweet, faintly grass-flavoured, water as we tilt our head backs and wiggle our tongues. it sounds like magpies croaking with dry throats, the moan of sluggish flies, our giddy screams. it feels like a forever; long yellow days stretching into infinite orange nights that slip into the length of a heartbeat.
they are our childhood years of summer in nan’s yard, lasting a lifetime or an hour.