It was a summer when tarmac softened and grass turned paper dry. Earth hardened until it cracked open. It was nineteen-sixty-seven, the age of Aquarius, the summer of peace, love and understanding. But that was in the greater world. At home, his sister was locked in her bedroom, her passport confiscated, her choices withdrawn. His parents conversed only in terse sentences.
His family was controlled by a mother who was volatile and unpredictable. His father sought solitude by making wine in a windowless garage and practising magic tricks in his bedroom. His sister, always distant, inhabited a world of parties and dancing.
An adult at university, a child at home, he worked that summer in a large shed with a corrugated iron roof. He learned how to melt the pitch on old car batteries, repair and reconstruct them. He was entrusted with the company van, to deliver them to the scorched forecourts of local garages.
He couldn’t remember how he learned that his sister was pregnant, or if the news slowly permeated his life. With no husband, she had threatened disgrace for their family. Relocated with a friend of his mother’s, she moved both physically, and emotionally, even further from him.
Eventually the weather broke, roads flooded, and in a heavily laden van, he visited his sister. Withered by a common matriarchy, a bond had grown.
The new child was named, and taken away. A fable fabricated to explain his sister’s absence. That summer was never mentioned again. He was neither brave enough, or foolish enough, to question the decisions of his parents.
The summer of love ran its course. A baby was born, held by him one afternoon, then abandoned. An illusion of peace returned, love was an illusion, and there would never be understanding.