Room Temperatures

A very hot dog takes advantage of the box fan.

The house is unnaturally cool. Blankets get pulled up around chins. The hot coffee feels good going down. There is always a hoodie nearby for the overzealous chill. You could even imagine baking–if that was what you did. If it was a blueberry pie, that would be good.

Opening the door on a 97°F day isn’t a shock. Walking through the threshold, the wet heavy air forms a drape, a drape that is transparent to the eye but has the heft of thick velvet curtains. You need to almost push the air away, except it doesn’t resist.

The humidity is supra-tropical and the air is moving around. For skin cooled by the AC, it really isn’t as bad as expected. Stepping off of the shady porch and into the sunlight is a bigger contrast. The sun squinches eyes, even those behind sunglasses. It doesn’t caress the cool skin as much as press on it. But it doesn’t press hard.

The heat is forgotten for the first five blocks, until the the last of the chill, that last chill left on your forearms, gets dispersed into the air. The cool becomes hot, too.

The heat begins to press harder on skin. It closes up your nostrils, making it harder to breathe. It squeezes out beads of water along the hairline, at the waistband. Water begins to drip from under arms and beneath chins from throat to chest.

The heat seems to make gravity more grave. It pushes down on thighs as they work to bring the feet up to propel to the next block. It would be easy to slow down, but that would mean staying in the heat. No slowing down, but no speeding up, either. Additional exertion would be too punishing.

The last turn to the final block is a mental relief but a physical trial. Cheeks are flushed and radiate fire. The dull throbbing from your head that started two blocks earlier becomes all consuming.

The key turns in the lock. The door opens and the arctic blast starts your revival. The moisture on all skin surfaces begins to evaporate in the dark, cool house. The pounding in your head gets worse as you slump onto the couch. You stand up to switch the fan to “high” and flop back on the couch, facing the fan with your eyes closed, wiping your face with your shirt.

Your head hurts, but as you watch the swelling of your feet subside and feel the ring twirl around freely where it had been stuck on your sausage finger a few minutes ago, you lay your still pulsing head on the pillow, and reach for that hoodie.

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