We all remember our first love, that one affair that took custody of your heart and never really let it go. Readers around the world were touched by The Summer Remains, a heartbreaking and inspiring novel about one of these romances – but Cooper Nichols, the enigmatic young man at the center of the novel, was largely silent on the matter. Until now.
“I just can’t believe it’s over between you guys,” my best friend said as we walked down the pier. “You two were supposed to last forever.”
I stared out at the blue sea. “Oh, trust me, it’s not over. I am going to see that girl’s face in every crowd I look into, forever. And maybe a few forevers after that…”
And so begins the tale of young writer Cooper Nichols. Left in ruins after a tragic summer romance, Cooper is afraid the sun may have set on him for good – until his mother discovers a copy of Cooper’s journal he kept of that summer. As he reluctantly slips back into his own past in the pages of his notebook, Cooper starts to rethink everything he thought he knew about life, death, and all the love that can bloom in between – and what follows is a thrilling and breathtaking journey back to joy that will sink into you and stay there for the long haul.
Illuminating, romantic and soul-stirring, Invincible Summer is a testament to the miraculous power of love, in all its immortal glory and everlasting majesty. If you have ever found yourself drifting back to a long-lost romance during a quiet moment, prepare to be pulled under all over again.
The Day The Words Stopped
The nurses step away to give us some privacy, and I fall apart inside. Since Summer’s parents are collapsed in the corner, I gather every ounce of fading strength within me and creep forward to lean over her beautiful face. My girlfriend’s face. I know this will be it – the last alone time I will ever get with her while she can perhaps still hear me, while her brain may still be active. So I swallow hot tears and quash the panic blooming deep within me, doing everything I can to keep myself together and make this moment count. Make it last. Forever.
“You are it, Summer,” I tell her as I stroke her ear, which isn’t yet ice cold, as dry sobs come up hard and fast from the rioting depths of me. “You are it – you’re the one. The only one. Always. I just…”
Paused by my pain, I brush a strand of honey hair away from her hazel eyes and look down at what is inside them, at all of her, even the parts she’d hated, the parts she’d hidden from me, and I know all over again that I loved all of her. My voice cracks and then a yelp explodes from my throat, but I swallow this, too. What else does she need to know?
“You were the best thing about my life, Summer. I loved you. I love you – if I could learn every language the human race has ever spoken, just to tell you that in every way a human mouth has ever said it, so you could hear it in every way a human ear has ever heard it, I would. This love…this life…was just…beyond words.”
I am really breaking now, but I tell myself to fight through it. She is on the way out, and she needs a life raft. Something to cling to. If I could tell her one more thing, one combination of words that would sink into her soul and stay there, so she could take them with her wherever she might be going, what might those words be?
“I will make this world remember you, Summer Johnson,” I say as I stroke her hair, and now I am not even trying to control the tears. They are falling, spilling, splashing onto the only girl I ever loved. “I’m gonna make you live forever, even if it takes me fifty years. You will never die, not really.” My voice cracks and then splits. “I promise.”
The nurses start to crowd me, and I know the end is coming. I touch her face, so cold with death now, and I know for the millionth time just how much she meant to me.
If I only I knew what I was promising, the day my muse died. Because after the summer of my life, I have entered the winter of my discontent, and I don’t know if I’ll make it to the spring thaw. Basically, my problem is this: I think I might be done with this whole “life” thing. Today is December 10, and if I do kill myself, I know I’d like to do it on the Fifteenth, Summer’s birthday, just to fuse me with my girl forever.
Looks like I’ve got some thinking to do.
**This can be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading The Summer Remains first.
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About Seth King
Seth King is a twenty-five-year-old author and artist.