The Summer Children
Alexis wished it wasn’t summer.
It was late July, and all the other people in her neighborhood were outside doing something. But if it weren’t for her mom, Alexis would be asleep right now. A few summers ago at school, she had decided that, to hide from the harshly hot weather, she would sleep during the day and go out during those cool summer nights she loved so much. She would feed herself then, too. Being thirteen, that wasn’t too hard.
But this year Mom had told Alexis otherwise. She had enrolled her in a summer camp at school. For a whole month! It wasn’t an overnight camp, but it still wasn’t fun—or cool. None of her friends were doing anything that summer. Sure, they weren’t sleeping, but they were hanging out at the pool, shopping going to the beach, no doubt meeting cute guys and making new friends, like what normal teenagers do over the summer. But no, Mom had to torture her by making her be the oldest person at the camp. All Alexis did all day was do lame and boring crafts and projects. Alexis was a fairly well behaved child, but she did have her own opinion on things. She wished she wasn’t spending a whole chunk of her summer sitting on a park bench making door hangers with kindergarteners. SO not fun.
And as if that weren’t enough, Mom’s camp had thrown her sleeping pattern way out of whack. Six days of the week she had to go to bed at night and then wake up at nine for the camp. Summer, and you had to wake up at nine. Jeez! Harsh! So even if she had had at least one day of sleeping until ten pm, she wouldn’t have been able to do it because she was so used to doing it so she could go to camp. But her lame (but usually effective) excuse—I’m tired!—hadn’t worked on her mom this time. Alexis let out a puffy sigh and lay back on her bed, bummed she was too awake to fall asleep.
That night, when the stars were shining and the moon was glowing like a huge lightbulb, Alexis crept outside slowly and silently. It was a cool night for such a hot day—highs in the 90’s. It was Saturday night, so she had just spent the day staring out the window. Even on a “nice” day like this, kids weren’t out and about. Huh, she had thought, I wonder why.
She twirled on her tippy toes. She sashayed across the lawn and leaped across the dewy fields. Her toes were wet and she probably stepped in dog poop on her way out. Still, she was as happy as can be.
She jumped so high she thought she would touch the moon, the stars, the sky. She got acrobatic, cartwheeling and tumbling across the spacious lawn. She stared up at they sky and made a wish. Then she remembered how nine-year-old that was of her and reminded herself that it would’ve been okay four years ago, but not now. What was she doing, anyway? Alexis scolded herself and went inside. Out of habit, though, from the previous summers, she dumped a can of ravioli into a dish and stuck it in the microwave. She sat down at the table and thought. She deserved some time outside. After her ravioli, she would go outside and spend just two more minutes…
A half hour later, Alexis was shivering in her bed even though it was something like ninety degrees in the house.
Oh, my god, she thought. Oh, my god. What just happened? Is the planet being abducted by aliens? Are Martians trying to take over the planet? Oh, my god, I’m going to die. No, I’m going to be experimented on, then tortured, and then I’m going to die. Yeah, that seems about right. Okay…the only problem being I don’t want do die!
Alexis shivered again. She thought about what had just happened. Minding her own business. Then a blinding flash of light, and a noise like a sonic boom. Silhouettes of kids walking towards her. Then total blackness.
How she had gotten back in the house was a miracle. But one thing was for sure: she was never going out there at night. Never. Ever.
Not for a million dollars. Well, maybe.