I'm sitting at the kitchen table, doing homework. The TV blares in the background and I tune it out as I attempt to concentrate on the math problems on the page. There's a loud thud and I look up. My little sister, Jane, hops down the staircase, one stair at a time. Both of her shoes are on, though her shoelaces haven't been tied yet. I roll my eyes. She's the least subtle person I know.
My mother takes a break from watching the television, turning her head to face Jane. "Now, where do you think you're going?" she asks.
Jane shuffles her feet, now at the bottom of the staircase. "I wanted to go out."
My mother frowns. She picks up the remote and gestures at the television. "Sorry, kiddo," she says. "It's too hot outside."
"I don't care." Jane is stubborn, in a very headstrong eight-year-old way. "It's been hot for days."
I can tell that my mother's patience is wearing thin. "Jane, no." She returns to watching the television and I watch it, too, for a moment. The shiny-haired news anchor talks-about what, I don't particularly care about. The warnings flash across the screen like usual: don't go outside, wait until cooler temperatures.
Jane continues to pout. She's determined to get outside. But she can't. How do you explain to a kid that if you go outside, it's so hot that it will instantly burn off her shoes and maybe even her feet? You don't. I sign, dropping my pencil onto the tabletop. So much for finishing my homework by 7.
"Jane, why don't we play cards or something? You know we can't go outside," I try to reason with her.
She sighs as well. It's been days since the temperature was cool enough for us to go outside, and even then, it was late into the night and she had barely been awake for it.
"Okay," Jane says. She brightens up again. "I'll go get the deck!"
I watch her leave, then stare out the window. It's been layered so thickly I can barely get a glimpse outside, just catching a glimpse of the murky and warped red sky. Of course, without the several layers of protection, we would have all been exposed to the heat.
The sound from the television cuts into my thoughts again.
"Yes, yes," I mutter to myself, then repeat the anchorman's line. "Wait for cooler temperatures."