It was hot. So hot, the national weather service issued a heat warning. So hot, you couldn’t leave pets or infants in a car, no matter how quick the trip. So hot, the Red Cross was on the street handing out bottled water to the elderly and admonishing noon-day runners for their foolishness. Indeed, more than thirty runners had already collapsed due to the heat, and yet still they ran on the concrete streets.
People were testy, angry. More incidents of road rage occurred than normal, and police were out in force, trying to keep people calm, trying to keep each other from being overly forceful.
Inez sat on a bench, basking in the glory. She reveled in the warmth, gleeful in her skirt and airy blouse, grinning at the men sweating into their suits. She had her sunscreen on – SPF 60 – and had the naturally tanned skin that young Californians and tanning bed users craved.
She sipped at her bottle – holding a homemade sangria, made the night before and stored in the freezer – and felt its cooling effect run through her. And she sat, laughing at the people frowning in their vehicles, the poor fools walking to or from or between work. And she felt the hot sun on her face, and stored this lovely warm feeling, holding it dear, special to her, keeping it in her heart for when the winter would come.
Last winter had been one of the worst on record. Inez had frozen on a daily basis, despite layers and layers of clothing, a parka, and the thickest snow pants she could find. She cursed the chill, the ice, the snow, everything about winter, praying for the return of the sun’s glory.
Now she delighted, banishing every last trace of frost from her being, and holding it in for the next round. I’m ready, she thought. This winter won’t take me.