Part One

The sun hung high in the sky, undisturbed by merciful clouds, like an operating room light above an autopsy table. All around it beat pure blue heatwaves against the lush summer trees, ripe with fruit and pollen. When the air stilled, the weight of July bore down on my shoulders and scalp, making my skin slick with perspiration yet somehow agonizingly dry and itchy. I made a mental note to pick up sunscreen on the way home.