Summertime Girl by Louise Herreshoff Eaton


Monologue by Ramsay Trask '24

Winter 2021

If you sit quietly and look upon Cape Ann, Massachusetts, you will feel the deep history of our colorful fishing town whisking through the humid summer air in a slow, lazy breeze. I do this every morning—when the oppressive heat has not yet hit its burning peak and the village is bursting and alive around me. The fishermen and crabbers shout routine greetings at each other across the rippling water and their old, fading buoys hang drying in the warmth of the beaming sun; they swing and rustle against old wood in waning blues, greens, and reds. Every part of Cape Ann seems to be teeming with movement and vitality in the cooler morning air—except for me. I sit in the eye of the hurricane, swept up in the tide and unable to move from my rickety rocking chair speckled with chipped paint. The solace I feel on the creaky wood of this porch is peculiar—in observance of the fishermen’s chaotic early summer mornings, for a brief, splendid moment I escape my own storm.My hurricane comes at night. When the tyrant sun has set and fireflies are barely flickering against the dusty purple of the sky, the old screen door squeaks open and he stomps inside, tracking muddy boot prints on the scuffed hardwood I had scrubbed that morning. He is an impending storm every night; the kind where you sit and stare up at the heavy grey skies and wait for the first fat raindrop to fall. For me there isn’t even an awning to duck under when his lightning strikes. I’m out in a barren field, letting raindrops of too much bourbon soak me through to my skin and shards of broken drinking glasses strike. It would be futile to even try to outrun it. You’re a fool and a coward if you run, and there is no room for cowards in Cape Ann. The very fibers of the town are made of tenacity and sticking it out. Besides, where would I run? This hurricane is the only sure thing in my life. I always dreamt wistfully that my husband would sweep me off my feet; that we’d live in a big plantation house with children and pets and sit laughing around the dinner table each evening. I sought that kind of familial happiness I had never known—my mother died before I could even know her and my father – well. My father taught me how to survive a hurricane every night. I never thought that this would be me. I always vowed to never follow in my mother’s footsteps, to never put up with what she did. And I was foolish. Her only escape was death and mine will be too. I didn’t even want to marry him in the first place. I was already in love—in love with a strong, quiet man with whom I felt safe. He was like sitting in a green field in April, the sun washing over you with a slight breeze. I loved him. So much. But my father did not approve of his wonderful softness so... he put an end to it. Violently. My father didn’t know how to end things any other way. I guess he had already planned on me marrying his friend. They were disturbingly alike – tempestuous, rough. I feel like I am closer to my mother than I ever have been now. I wish I could talk to her, to ask her—is it worth living to brave the storm over and over and over again? Does she relish her escape from the sharp words, berating her, beating her? What would she want for me?? I could escape right now—outrun the hurricane of beating fists and purple bruises around my neck. I could run to the water, jump in and let it swallow me whole. What would she do??? What did she do??? I want to ask her so badly. But of course I could not hear her answer anyway. So. I will continue to sit here, watch the bright, busy summer mornings from afar and await the impending storm clouds rolling in. I will continue to toil away for him in the kitchen and scrub the floors until there is blood dripping from underneath my fingernails. I will make his bed, our bed, and set the table like a good little wife. I will let him drink, and drink more, and take whatever troubles he found on the sea that day out on me. I will lay awake each night and wonder if my mother would be proud of me.  When he’s out on his boat, occupied with shooing seagulls and netting baitfish, the sky is clear, but ominous rumbles of thunder still sound in the distance. I will never fully escape the storm, but moments like these are the closest I can get.