Laughter over the back fence, the sizzle of burgers, swift sails on the horizon, the tinkle of bobbing masts in the marina, gulls screech above the tide line and crabs scurry for cover. August is your birthday month, and your mother says you are no longer a child. She adds repeatedly that strangers are dangerous, that camping out in the moldy tent in the backyard with the next-door boys, as you have summers back, must stop, that you can no longer run through the sprinkler until your shirt, heavy with silky cool, clings to your suddenly cold body, not, she adds with a half smile, because she doesn’t love you, but that she loves you more. And you are frightened, sure this change will ruin everything. Your older sister spends all her days putting polish on her nails and all her nights removing it. You look at women and wonder if they remember this time before, this time when, in the cusp, they straddled the sharp edge of puberty.

Anna Peerbolt
Olive Kitteridge
Elizabeth Strout