My eyes are swollen from sleep. My alarm keeps ringing and I absentmindedly keep shutting it off for over an hour. I bolt out of bed, spend too long in the shower but still calmly walk back upstairs. Mom comes knocking with an iced coffee. The ice cubes ping against the rim of the blue glass. I dab my face with my damp make up sponge, pressing it against my eyelids, forcing the swelling down. I’m late for the bus and while I brush my teeth mom pours the rest of my coffee into a take away mug. Running out the door, I take a sip, careful not to spill on the white T-shirt I’ve just stolen out of her wardrobe.

I’ve been home for a week. It’s the dead of summer. I tell myself that I got a tan last week, but in reality all the colour I got in the last weeks is from a bottle. Every four days I’ve applied the tropically scented mousse in circular motions across my skin. It makes me feel better about myself for some reason. I leave white patches where my bikini is supposed to be, just to further fool myself into thinking I got a proper summer this year. I force myself to get through, to grasp on to all the little tiny glimpses of summer. Taking note of anything that makes me feel present. Trying not to think of the things that are to come in september.
“Just another year” I chant to myself in my head. Just another year.

In the afternoons, after locking up the air conditioned office, I step out into the sun and jog to the bus. I finish at 5 and the bus leaves 5.01. If I make it I’m home just 5.15. The bus pulls away before I have a chance to sit down. All the single seats are taken. I walk all the way to the back. I sit down next to a boy with a silver earring. I place my bag in my lap, plug in my headphones, take my glasses off and put them back in its case. I rub the bridge of my nose before putting on my sunglasses instead. I listen to The Chain or Do Not Disturb on repeat and watch people getting on and off the clammy bus. The boy next to me gets off one stop before me, so I stand up, still cradling my bag, and let him out. My trousers stick to the back of my thighs. His earring glistens for a moment when the sun hits it through the dusty windows.

Through my brother’s open window I hear his fan whirring and the clicks of his keyboard. When I get in the door I run up the stair and dump my things on the bed. I put my slick hair in a sloppy bun, peel off my clothes and leave them in a pile on the floor. I skip back downstairs in my bikini. Mom is boiling eggs. The dogs are sleeping in the shade in the back garden. I cover a cotton pad in make up remover and soak the foundation from my skin. It rolls off in thick layers onto the cotton. It feels like rubbing the skin off a peach.

Underneath my concealer my eyes are still swollen.