The Screeching Summer Solstice
“Shit!” I yell as I scramble out of bed at 5:20 a.m. It’s the day of the summer solstice, the worst day of the year. I rummage through my bedside dresser, attempting to find my earplugs. They’re not there, fuck! Why didn’t I look for them last night? I stumble through my apartment and down the hall, looking for my backpack—maybe they’re in there. I glance at the clock in my living room as I grab and unzip my backpack, flipping it over and dumping its contents out: 5:22 a.m. All that’s in my backpack are school and work supplies. A low, but quickly growing ear-grating shriek, begins in the East.
I sprint to my bathroom, glancing at the clock once again—5:23. I grab toilet paper and roll it into two small balls, fumbling as I pour water on them. The shriek grows closer as I stuff the toilet paper in my ears and make a run for the front door, making sure to grab my wallet and phone from my kitchen counter. The makeshift earplugs are doing their job well as I jog down the street towards the Walgreens. I notice I’m not the only one making a run for it though, and I pick up my pace as I berate myself. How the hell did I forget about the solstice? There are signs plastered everywhere for sun’s sake! I run past a group of Sun Worshippers preparing for their day of ceremonies in the park just down the street and think about a time when they didn’t exist. Just as I’m about to get completely lost in thought, I almost run into the sliding doors.
I make my way down to the earplug aisle and search for the same brand of Skullcandy earplugs I’ve bought for years and make my way to the checkout line when I run into Jerome, who’s ahead of me in line. I tap him on the shoulder and slide the earplugs into my pocket as we start to speak in sign language.
“Hey, man! How’re you doing?” I sign to him.
“Pretty good! Did you lose your earplugs too?”
“Yeah, this is the second year in a row I’ve completely forgot about the solstice.”
“Shit, really? This makes a first for me… Hey, did you see the fucking sunners outside?” he says as he begins checking out. He looks away for a bit when the cashier begins signing to him. He looks back at me.
“Yeah, and for suns’ sake, try to be more respectful of other people’s religions,” I said.
“Well their ‘god’ is nothing but a nuisance. I mean, who wants to praise a sun that screams once a year? And it happens to be on the longest day! They have to be crazy to worship it.”
I look away now, checking out with the cashier, who asks me if I want a bag. I shake my head and turn back to Jerome.
“Hold on a sec,” I quickly take out my makeshift earplugs one at a time, replacing them with my new ones. For a split second as I’m replacing each ear I hear an almost deafening scream. The earplugs provide a sweet relief as I put them in… nothing but sweet silence. I take another moment to connect them to my phone, then my phone to his, as I begin speaking. “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you don’t have to be a dick about it.”