Canicule @grassycheesecake
Canicule Canicule: noun can·i·cule | ˈkanə̇‧ˌkyül A period of great heat; the dog days of summer

Lenalee lay on the roof of her garage as the sunset orange around her faded into grayish purple twilight. The evening air was thick with moisture and the drone of the cicadas. Only a handful of drifting fireflies dared to disturb the swampy stillness, and Lenalee suspected that they were only able to because their wings were fanning them as they flew. Humans weren’t so lucky, so she stayed as still as she could bare.

She closed her eyes and breathed out, willing the heat to melt her mind away with her body so that her racing thoughts could slow and disappear alongside the just-set sun. It didn’t work, and so she found herself drifting into thoughts of Allen. She wished that he would text or call her. It was always so much easier when he messaged first. She was saved the anxiety, the agony of waiting and wondering whether her messages were a good idea.

Her phone buzzed suddenly, and Lenalee shot up like a tight-wound spring. It was her brother asking for a grocery list. She sent him back a few things they’d run out of at the house, trying to ignore the clenched, deflating feeling in her gut as she did so. She switched to Allen’s contact when she was done, scrolling though their text history and counting how many times each of them had texted first. It was about equal, but she’d been first the last time they talked. They usually alternated. Lenalee didn’t know if she had the nerve to break that pattern. She wondered if Allen even cared.

Her phone buzzed suddenly, and Lenalee shot up like a tight-wound spring. It was her brother asking for a grocery list. She sent him back a few things they’d run out of at the house, trying to ignore the clenched, deflating feeling in her gut as she did so. She switched to Allen’s contact when she was done, scrolling though their text history and counting how many times each of them had texted first. It was about equal, but she’d been first the last time they talked. They usually alternated. Lenalee didn’t know if she had the nerve to break that pattern. She wondered if Allen even cared.

After a minute of debating, she bit her lip and typed out an opening line. Then she deleted it and typed another, and another yet after that. She collapsed back down to her reclined pose, letting the heat on the roof fry her like an egg in a pan. She typed out another message. The cicadas droned at the sweat that dripped down her face as she tried to relax. She lowered her phone and focused herself on finding a way to breathe past the ever-growing twist in her throat. The rumbling of her neighbor’s pool filter joined the chorus of cicadas with its grating song. She decided to wait.

The sensible part of her reminded the rest that double texting didn’t mean much of anything, especially not to sweet, sensible guys like Allen. She could never be annoying to him, she told herself, they were practically dating. Lavi had insisted on more than one occasion that Allen was in fact in love with her and just “too puss to make his move.” She was pretty sure that she believed him. He also insisted that the word pussy stood for pusillanimous and that its use was therefore not sexist in the slightest. She wasn’t sure if she believed that one.

A firefly drifted through the sky above the Lenalee’s face as the shingles below her dug into her back. After considering it for a moment, she heaved herself into a sitting position once more. She wondered how nice it must feel to be free to drift around and do anything, heat and humidity be damned. She wondered how Allen felt about hot weather. She wondered if he knew how cute it was when his eyes crinkled up as he laughed. She wondered how his hand would feel holding hers. She reached for her phone.

“Hey,” she typed. Her whole body twisted and tightened in purposeless protest. She hit send and resigned herself to waiting. There was a minute, maybe two, of nothing, and then the buzz of her phone joined the buzzing insects. At the sound of it, Lenalee’s lungs briefly forgot how to work. She unlocked the screen and found a message from Allen waiting.

“Hey.” it said, “What’s up?” Lenalee breathed out for the first time in what felt like eternity as the relief crashed over her. She considered what she’d planned to say next. She wondered if she had the nerve.

Sweat rolled down her cheek as the air simmered. The heat refused to die with the sun as it should have. Her screen was dim from inactivity.

In a desperate act of self-compromise, she sent back a message reading “can I ask you something?” The instant of nothing that followed felt halfway like forever, and halfway like no time at all. She found that the cicadas had been drowned out by the blood rushing in her ears. She felt, not heard, when her phone buzzed.

“Sure.” Allen’s new message read, “of course.” The small part of Lenalee that wasn’t imploding took a moment to appreciate how simple and nice Allen’s texts always were. He typed like the opposite of panic, which was something she loved and needed. The rest of her screamed in silence as the non hysterical part of her brain typed out and sent “Do you want to go out with me?” She hoped that her bluntness could comfort him like his comforted her. She wondered if he needed that comfort.

The seconds after texting dragged on forever, and Lenalee pondered whether it would be better or worse to never get a reply. The least rational part of her was considering throwing up. A firefly blinked, and her phone buzzed.

“Yes!” message on the screen read. Something thick and tight inside Lenalee contracted once and shattered, leaving a void that was quickly filling with something that felt like the emotional equivalent of fizzy cool cream soda. Her phone buzzed again, presenting another message. “God yes.” it said. “Of course I do.” She smiled at that, thanking every god she knew that she’d built up the nerve to text him.

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