North Country Summer


The sun is a big round ball. The sun is yellow and hot and sometimes the sun looks white. Hugh lives in a small town in Alaska. There are fishing boats in his town. From space, the town looks like it is a whale. You can’t see the town from space, Jackson says. Jackson builds rockets and works for the government. It would look like a whale anyway, Maria says. Hugh has sex with Maria in his glass house.

My house is square and it is made of glass, Hugh says. Hugh built his house on a river. The river runs through the town that looks like a whale if you could see it from space. The government is going to build a bridge next to your house, Jackson says. Maria makes small giraffe sounds with her throat when she is making sex. Giraffe’s don’t sound like that, Mark says. Mark works at a zoo and has a rash on his shoulder. You have a rash on your shoulder, Jackson says. Did you sleep with Maria, Hugh asks. Hugh has started to urinate in his pants. The doctor says that it is because he is nervous. I think they touched you when you were fourteen, Maria says.

Maria was in a pornographic movie when she was fourteen. She was living in a cabin in Western Virginia and her guardian thought that she looked like Madonna. Her guardian thought she looked like Marilyn Monroe. Her guardian thought she looked like Mia Farrow. Her guardian no longer speaks that well because both his lungs collapsed in the coal mine. Both your lungs collapsed in the coal mine, the doctor had said. The nurse that bathed him had bathed him at night and she had been naked and she had clean neat hair on her body that made her shadowed and her unshadowed body look like clay sculptures. You look like a sculpture, Maria’s guardian had said to the nurse. The nurse had smiled and turned and coddled him and they had loved.

The other hospital nurse wore a white shirt and she looked like she has been working out in the closet. She is only fourteen, the doctor said. She is my sister.

Maria’s guardian still writes Maria letters. I read the letters, Mark says. I have learned to paint and soon I will be able to spend more time outside. That is what the last letter said. I read it, Hugh says. Hugh has a party with wine and guests and waiters and small plates of food. How does he know where you live, Hugh asks Maria. I told him, Maria says. She wears pants that are short and make her thighs look like they are too big and Hugh doesn’t think that giraffe’s are probably really that good in bed anyway.

I don’t really like to walk in the water when it is springtime because the water is too cold.


On the north side of the town there is a boy who is bleeding in the street because he was hit by a truck and the truck driver didn’t stop because the sun was hot and round and bright and the truck driver thought the boy was dead. I thought the boy was dead, the truck driver says and he spits chewing tobacco into the street and the police officer looks at him.

When the sun comes out in the spring and doesn’t go back under until the end of summer sometimes it is difficult to tell which side of the road is for driving and which side of the road is for walking. But that only happens in Alaska.


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