Summer of 1998: Too hot to handle

It’s 4:30 on a Friday, and rush hour has traffic crawling through the streets. I can already see the haze settling over the city. The smell of charred wood and foliage perfumes the air - not unpleasant, but highly unsettling.

A breeze blows through the car, bringing with it only heat. No relief. My breathing is stilted and labored though I’m sitting still in my car. I know without checking the mirror that my face is glistening with tiny beads of sweat. So much for the shower I just had. My uniform - a long, black linen skirt and starched white blouse - have already wilted.

The news comes on. I turn up the volume.

111 degrees. In July. At the end of the day.

Relief is nowhere in sight.

I go to work.

Six hours later

I walk out of the restaurant, tired after a busy night. The heat has abated some, but smoke hangs in the air all around me. I can’t see stars. I can just make out the moon. The city has been overtaken, though the lights along the road make it the world seem curiously bright.

By morning, the smoke will blow away again only to return tomorrow night. The smell will remain. A reminder.

How many more days?

How many more weeks?

Oh, how I wish it would rain down. 

***** 

Mama's Losin' It

This post was based on the prompt “What did you wish for most? Write about a time when it was just too hot. (inspired by writingfix.com)” from Mama Kat’s writing workshop. The summer of 1998 was already on my mind this week and fit the topic perfectly. Florida experienced drought conditions that year, which caused forest fires in several parts of the state. There were no fires in Tallahassee, but we didn’t escape the effects. I’ll never forget that summer.