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Midsummer Recollection

Artwork by Michelle Dong, staff artist

It is summer once again.

I have long stopped counting the seasons. I try, but I am certain that no summer compares in the delicate naivety of un-blanketed truth and emotions that only children will ever possess. Or rather, it was more about the time spent with you.

You, before your mind lay vulnerable to corrupted external motivations and desires.

Those summers, we woke up to birds squawking obnoxiously in the backyard, and too-bright sun rays beat down on our skin every day. But it was fine because the bird songs were drowned by the musical concerts we hosted in the cool shade of trees, where we licked cherry-red popsicles that left sticky trails down our little fingers. We argued over who would throw the plastic white wrappers and sticks away when we finished, and it was always you who gave in.

And who can forget those hot and humid nights? We raced through the house, shoving all the windows up high. We lay still on the scratchy mattress, you betting that I’d fall asleep first, but you were wrong. I quietly rejoiced in the dark when you went silent and checked that your eyes had fluttered close. I beamed at the ceiling and tucked the memory in my brain to nag you about the next day.

We played in the sprinklers too, when it wasn’t too hot, and chased each other around the lawn, hollering and squealing when the cold water pummeled us. We formed a temporary truce and teamed up against the nefarious sprinklers with our frisbee shields and attempted to battle them with neon green water guns. (It was totally useless though.) I almost slipped on the grass, but you grabbed my arm, and I got away with just a bruise.

But now, you are indefinitely gone, and the happiness that once danced in our eyes has found a new home. The only thing I am sure that connects us now is the crimson blood running through the surname we share. I realized how strikingly similar you turned out to be to our father when you proved that memories have no meaning, that they cannot be manually utilized as currency for self-progress or economic wealth, and therefore, are insignificant.

I ask, are you content now? Content to fly across the country, to see what the world has to offer, and to leave your loved ones behind?

And as I lie here on the rotting ten-year-old mattress, alone, wasting away yet another dwindling day of another empty summer, I bitterly wonder if there is still any way to piece together the once-blissful state of our childhood with the shreds of memories that you left in my care.


Noreen Chen is a sophomore at Jericho High School. In her free time, she likes to read, write, and think of ways to improve herself. When Noreen isn’t brainstorming ideas, you can find her watching YouTube or obsessing over peanut butter.

Michelle Dong is 14 years old and is from New York. She loves programming, design, art, and music. Her passion for website design and research led her to qualify for nationals at NHD, which is situated in Maryland. As of 2019, she won the Lowell Milken award grand prize for her website about an unsung hero, Caroline Ferriday. Her hobbies for art and music have led her to become a late-night doodler and an avid earbud breaker.

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