First of September – Short Story

“It’s too damn hot to be the first of September’’ she fiddled with the collar of her blouse and sighed, dissatisfied with her reflection in the mirror.

Wearing black is not going to help …

She stirred, furious at not being able to get rid of the ever self judgmental thoughts and self doubt.

The never ending present from mum…

She used to love the first of September.

The first falling leaves, colours which changed from green to yellow and then, her favourite, reddish brown, which went so well with her hair.

The relief of morning chill and the smell of promised rain in the air after months of dry air.

A smile crossed her face. She recalled her joy of running and kicking through those piles of leaves knowing she finally could spend time outside without the fear of burning her skin.

Redheads and strong sun are not good friends…

She loved that season, while her sister insisted on going to the beach to soak as much sun as she could.

But not today.

Her sister would probably dismiss it as just another proof of global warming but for her it was like a personal assault on her.

“I could manage this heat during July and August, but today is the first of September! I don’t have the energy for this anymore”.

She peered at her sister hoping to get some kind of a consolation response, only to receive a grunt which she hoped was a sign of agreement to her statement.

She was never a big talker…

She sat down at her dressing table to put her makeup on. Rummaged through the drawer, rejecting anything that was too bright; her mother always hated garish colours which of course was exactly why she liked them.

But not today.

Another thing was missing today.

First of September was back to school. A hope for a new beginning.

She could still remember the excitement of the start of a new school’s year. The smell of new books. The thrill of writing down her dreams for the coming year. The late night calls with girlfriends giggling about the new boy in school. Fantasies about going out to parties and… falling in love…

All those wishes and yearnings she had followed by the eternal sentence of ”Maybe this year…”

Even today, fifty years after the first of September rolls in, she pulls out her diary and sets up new goals to accomplish until the end of the year.

Habits die hard.

Her mother, who was a teacher, would wake up early on the first of September, even in retirement, as if she needed to go and teach again. Only to find there was nowhere to go and experience the emptiness that had entered her life once forced to retire.

Thinking of her mother, an uncontrolled gag reflex hit her. The smell of the eternal Chanel 5 perfume, her mother would spray excessively, was in the room as if her mum was present.

Mum should not have retired…

She checked her reflection one last time to make sure she had not overdid her makeup.

Regardless, whether her mum should or should not have retired, she recognised this connection between the first of September to a start of something new. That promise for a better time, which still lingered with her as if she inherited it from her mother.

But not today. There is no new start today.

One more useless thing I inherited from her…

“Are you ready?” She raised her head to notice her sister towering over her, waiting.

She picked herself up, flattened the wrinkles of her skirt and stepped out of the room, dressed all in black to go to her mother’s funeral.

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