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As I lay here in my bed on a quiet night in December, my mind wanders to my summers in Southold. I slowly close my eyes, drifting into a dream of August nights… 

The faint smell of fried fish and homemade coleslaw wafts into the living room. The comforting scent distracts me, and the words on the page in front of me float out of my focus. I set my book aside on the table and melt into the striped cushion of Mimi’s oversized armchair. It carries a sense of nostalgia and safety that eases the deep rooted familial tensions hidden under the skirt’s ruffles. I settle into my small yet significant triumph; I have the chair to myself. My eyes become heavy and at peace as I await the traditions of the visit’s first night dinner. Oil spits from the pan and echoes throughout the condo. Wooden spoons twist and turn the cool, fresh slaw around a large ceramic bowl. The sliding screen door in the kitchen is open about halfway, leading to a small patio. Adorned with flower pots and hanging baskets, the pale blue deck absorbs the smells of Southold fish market’s flounder and bread crumbs, mixing with the freshness of August air. Birds chirp as the evening sky darkens, fluttering around the nearby tree branches and frantically dipping in the stone birdbath for a quick cleanse. I sense light in front of me: QVC Shopping network with Mimi’s favorite hosts, familiar voices that can be heard softly throughout the house. The rambling conversations on the television screen turn to muffled whispers. I hear Maddie’s distinct footsteps from the taupe, carpeted stairs that lead to a cozy upstairs loft behind me. The aged banister creaks and groans with each step. I feel a breath from behind my exposed ears. Suddenly, I am alert and suspiciously aware of all of my surroundings. I open my eyes, but I can’t see. Endless inches of Maddie’s thick, dirty blonde hair clouds my vision. I inhale, momentarily enjoying the familiarity of an annual scent: lavender and rosemary notes of the upstairs bathroom’s shampoo. In a giddy panic, I move the strands until they disappear from my view and sit up. I quickly regain the sight of the warm living room glow, but it is too late. Leaping over the back of the chair, she playfully grabs my flailing limbs and pins me down. The teasing smells of dinner suddenly become nonexistent; my only thoughts are escape and victory. Our bodies are at war, yet the large cushion supports us and brings laughter. Maddie and I wrestle over possession of the coveted chair until a preliminary taste of dinner disrupts the battle. Mimi, hidden under red glasses and behind an apron, wanders over with the bowl of coleslaw, extending a spoonful. We separate, an olive branch temporarily forming between us, while our mouths slowly drift to smiles. We pause to enjoy the crunchy, cold, refreshing side dish. A slight tang of vinegar awakens our taste buds, further peaking our interest. After this moment of exciting, savory release, Maddie and I continue on the battlefield, knocking each other off of the chair in a frenzy of sisterly competition. “Girls, dinner is ready. Come set the table…” 

Annabelle is a junior at Denison University, majoring in Educational Studies and minoring in Creative Writing. She enjoys journaling, finding cute coffee shops, and crafting in her free time. On campus, she serves as the social media head for Denison's chapter of Her Campus, so check out our instagram @hcdenison!
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