Samara's Summer With the Sunnydale Sailors

Samara's Summer With the Sunnydale Sailors

A Story by penny gingyrose

This story involves magic and government conspiracies. Using Jewish mysticism, 90s era technology / gadgets, and their own shocking wit, can four girls - Samara, Lily, Amina, Xifeng - save the world?


Chapter One:

My mother was in the kitchen, and that’s how I’ll always remember her: checkered blue-and-white apron, awash in an aroma of herbs.

Summer was just beginning to kill the flowers and wake the insects up. The heat permeated all, and our humble suburb of Springfield Hills smelled like gasoline and fire and begonias.

My mother, the kitchen, the apron: they smelled like thyme, like basil, like oregano. A flurry of growing things fighting to survive in an environment of death death death.

My mother’s name is Aviva. She’s tall and built stockily, heavily. She’s got an elegant cupid’s bow lift to her mouth, and round glasses that accentuate her chestnut brown eyes. Her hair is a chaotic tumble of silver and brown, a waterfall extending to her waist.

In our family, there’s one genetic common denominator: our strong, musician’s, gardener’s hands. My mom has them. I have them. My twin brothers - college boys with girlfriends and master’s degrees - they have them. I assume my father had them, but he’s left us, so I wouldn’t know.

My mom is a warm, herbal, loving woman named Aviva who’s everything good about summer. My dad is a suitcase. My dad is misery. My dad is everything bad about summer.

My name is Samara. My legs are long, thin, sprinter’s legs. My hair’s a jumble of curls, cut short. My nose is long - as long as the rest of my tall, tall body. I wear a Star of David around my neck constantly. Today I’m wearing all black even though the weather and the sweat accumulating on my neck and hands beg me not to.

I’m playing on my Tamagotchi. My mom is cooking matzo ball soup.

“Sam, stop it,” comes my mom’s firm, strict voice. “You’re on that thing, like, 24/7.”

“Leave me alone, mom. And I’m not. Stop exaggerating.”

The sound of my mother mixing the soup becomes more furious.

“Oy vey. It’s your life, Samara, but this is where I take a stand. Get off that wretched thing and go play with Lily and Amina.”


I slide my legs off the couch I’m sitting on, go to the foyer, lace my skates up, buckle my helmet up, making sure to leave some shaggy hair hanging out so I look cooler, and escape to be blasted by a hot, hot sun.

I go the direction that leads me to Amina’s. Ami usually watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes around this time. I’ll call up Lily on my flip-phone - new model, black - when I get there , and we’ll all watch Buffy together.

I arrive at Amina’s squat, clapboard, maroon house. Windows are open on the facade to let gasoline-smelling, insect-harboring air in. A black-and-white dog, CoCo, Amina’s brother’s, chases her tail in the front yard. She barks and rushes over to me when she sees me, tail wagging. She’s always liked me. I scratch her ears and pet her head.

“How are you doing in this heat, baby girl?”

Before CoCo can answer, Amina’s mom Heather opens the door, likely called to CoCo’s barking. Likely thinking, who can be out in this heat? Besides the mailman? Her face instantly brightens when she sees me.

“Samara! Oh, do come in. Ami’s in the TV room watching Buffy. Hold on. Amina Fontaine! Samara’s in this Hell Weather so get your butt over here! Come in, Samara, don’t be shy.”

I come in, relishing the cool, air-conditioned atmosphere. Then, the warmth of a body presses into me. I hug Amina back.

“Sam! Come on, I’m watching BTVS right now. There’s popcorn.”

I smile. It’s hard not to smile when I’m around Amina.

“Is it new or a re-run?”

“Oh, come on, you know that Buffy’s on every Saturday. It’s Saturday. Speaking of, have you ever considered that Willow might, IDK, just throwing this out there, be gay?”

Sometimes Amina speaks like she’s on AOL. It’s a quirk of hers.

A brief sketch of my friend Ami: she’s funny, side-splittingly so, but a little judgmental. She’s compassionate and loyal not just to her friends, but to Buffy. She likes to wear clothes that remind her of her idols, the Spice Girls. She’s been to eight of their concerts. She’s an expert at Tamogotchi and has a great MySpace and a cool AOL where she’s totally hip. I, in comparison, am scrawny and dress like a punk even though I’m the opposite of hardcore, and am too poetic and romantic to be useful to society. Amina’s gonna grow up to be a scientist one day. I know it.

Amina’s other mom, Tara, comes downstairs and like her wife, brightens when she sees me.

“Samara!” Her smile can hang the stars in the sky. “What a pleasant surprise!”

“Hello, Ami’s mom.” I’m always awkward around parents. I don’t know why.

“You must have been sweltering in that leather jacket outside.”

“She’s a punk, mom. Jesus, didn’t you know?” comes Amina’s voice from the TV room.

“Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain.”


Tara claps her hands together.

“At any rate, please, make yourself comfortable. Take your gear off and enjoy yourself with Amina. Orange juice or sprite?”

“I’ll take water.”

“Of course.”


I’ve always loved the TV room. It has a brand-new, cutting-edge TV and beside it, towers of VCRs. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Roman Holiday. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Scooby Doo. The mantel over the fireplace has trophies, pictures of Amina at homecoming, Amina as a baby, her brother as a baby, a picture of me at my Bat Mitzvah party smiling with my arms slung around Ami and Lily. Ami looked stunning in her turquoise dress. Lily looked dashing in her suit.

Bean bag and lawn chairs offer the only furniture. A framed portrait of Amina’s moms at their wedding day is hung on the wall.

I watch as Amina flips through the channels, finally settling on Buffy. I call up Lily.

Amina’s crying, eyes puffy, tears streaking her face.

“C-Cordelia,” she whimpers.

“Sh, baby, I know, I know,” says Lily, putting a consoling hand on her shoulder.

The credits are rolling. I use the remote to turn the TV off.

“She-she d-d-died.”

A new onslaught of tears come forth, like an avalanche.

“I know what will cheer you up,” I say, inspired.

“Spice Girls?” asks Lily.

“Nah, but she always gets excited when she hears this.”

Amina’s too caught up in her grief to notice this conversation.

I rifle through her CDs, eventually finding the one I was looking for. I press play on her CD player.

This is a story all about how -

“My life got flip-turned upside down!” Amina screams.

“In West Philadelphia born and raised…” Lily and I join in.

I go home with Lily, Ami, and CoCo. The twilight is magically blue. Stars twinkle, just out of reach. My skates dangle from my hands and I’m wearing my helmet. The heat is less oppressive now. California summers are like that. We laugh, jostle, fumble. CoCo barks and attempts to chase squirrels.

“Fighting evil by moonlight!” Amina yells, arms outstretched, spinning in a circle.

“Winning love by daylight!” Lily strikes a fighting pose.

“Sailor Moon suuuuuucks,” I say.

“How could you say that?” Amina looks genuinely hurt.

“You only like it because you’re literally Usagi.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Yeah, you do. ‘I don’t want to go to a hospital. I want to go to a restaurant.’ ‘Down with sexual discrimination!’ That’s you in a nutshell.”

“True. Lily would be Sailor Uranus, I guess…”

The conversation continues, but I don’t listen. I think about Lily. Lily’s handsome, blond, and freckled like a country boy. She sticks to flannel shirts and khakis and swim trunks. With her windswept hair and a vocabulary that consists of “tubular” and “radical,” she’s basically a Californian surfer dude. She’s smart and witty and her humor’s sardonic. She reads Tolstoy and knows what a semigroup is. She’s better at football and basketball than any boy. She plays roller derby. She has a kitten, Mittens.

My friends drop me at home. I’m embraced by the cool air of a house once more, and by the smell of matzo ball soup. I follow the scent like a termite follows pheromones. It leads me to a kitchen, where steaming bowls of the soup are laid out on the table. My mom’s already eating. When she sees me, she flourishes with her arm.

“Please, eat. You might have to heat it up.”

I taste it. I don’t.

“How was your day?” she asks me.

“Amina, Lily, and I watched Buffy. We danced to some music. We had a good time. How was yours?”

“Sweltering. Foul-smelling. Californian summers, am I right? Also, Sam - aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Oh, right.”

I put my spoon down and say the bracha.

“Amen,” we finish.

The matzo ball soup tastes delectable. I can taste the herbs and other flavors married together. I quickly finish it and ask for seconds.

Deep into the night, I dream. My dreams are amalgams of stolen heartbreak and text voicemails and Buffy slaying me right in front of Amina, until GAME OVER flashes above and we all become pixelated…

And then, a vivid one:

I’m standing, feet planted firmly on concrete, on a winding street just like my neighborhood’s, but with no houses. Where the houses should be lining the street, there is green prairie - as far as the eye can see.

California summer. I can feel the heat and smell the gasoline (where from?) and smell the begonias (where from?) as well as if I was truly there. A wasp, red and satanic, hovers above me. I tense. My brain clouds with anxiety. It feels as if it’s truly there. I swallow a lump in my throat. I want my mother.

Just then, a surprising breeze rustles my hair. The origin is indeterminate, which leaves a creeping chill to rush up my spine.

I’m going to die here, I think, panicked. Please don’t let me die alone.

As if in answer, a deck of cards - redder than the wasp, appearing hotter than hell - materializes. Something in me, a deep, tugging, yearning desire, urges me to shuffle them. Yet, it does not feel like truly me. I am afraid. Indecisive. Curious. Primally tempted.

What do I do? I shuffle them. My hands seem to work as if something else is guiding them. The cards feel real. The fear, I know, is real.

It’s done.


I want to cry. I want to rejoice. I want my mother. I don’t want my dad; even in dreams, I never do.

It’s done.

Flip the ones you feel drawn to over.

I don’t want to flip them. I want to go home. Where’s home, Sam? Where’s home? I look around. Prairies never seemed so hostile.

I want to flip them. I want to know my destiny.

My hands, again, are pulled by some uncontrollable mechanism.

It’s done.

Disgusted, fearful as a caged animal, relishing, primally curious: above all, afraid. All these emotions, as mixed as my mom’s herbal matzo ball soup, course through my mind as I act on temptation from indeterminate location - just like the sudden breeze.

The heat is oppressive. The sky above is too blue.

This isn’t California summer. This is the world of dreams.

The cards are flipped with drawings up toward the scorching sun.

A jester, DreamWasp red, sits on a throne, lounging, looking bored. I am shocked by the lifelike detail. And yet, it all feels real.

A queen eating a heart. The gore looks like a photograph.

A mouse sewing, looking mischievous.

A forest. This one scares me most; I don’t know why.

A treasure chest, covered in moss.

A cliff, brown and scaling.

A beautiful woman - cut in half.

My emotions are now homogenous. I am fully, utterly, completely afraid.

I wake up and it’s like a smack to the face.

Shaking, I rub my eyes. That nightmare was horrible - and so alive, yet, somehow too alive. Too HD.

I get up into my dawnlit room and search for my Star of David. I clutch it like it’s hope. My anxiety decreases, but it’s still noticeably there.

I do the only thing I know to do next. I say a Kabbalah prayer to ward off evil spirits. Hashem, give me strength, I think. Help me through this.

I feel like the dream - not just the cards - foretell my destiny.

Breakfast tastes stale, like concrete. I don’t talk much. My mom notices. She looks radiant today. She looks concerned.

“Sam, are you sick? Are you alright? Why aren’t you eating anything? Talk to me.”

“I’m fine,” I say.

“You’re clearly not.”

So why did you ask? I think.

“I’m fine, really. Just not hungry. Just tired.”

“Did you have a bad dream?”

I stare down at my cheerios and milk. “Yeah.”

My voice rises hardly above a whisper.

“Oh, Samara.”

My mom reaches across the table and holds my hand.

“You don’t have to tell me what happened if you don’t want to. What can make you feel better?”

“Free reign to play Tamagotchi all day?” I ask, hopefully.

“No chance.”

“Worth a shot, though, right?”

“Not really.”

We burst out laughing.

“For Lily and Amina to come over,” I decided. “Please.”

It’s 3:00 PM. Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” is playing from the CD player in the sitting room, which transitions right into the kitchen.

The doorbell rings. It’s Lily.

She’s all smiles, with her characteristic freckled face. Her flannel shirt and khaki attire is characteristic too.

“Sup, dude,” she says, stepping in.

“Hey Lily.” I smile.

She smiles back.

“Still wearing black, I see, even though it’s hot enough to fry an egg outside,” she says drily.

I smile slyly back.

“Or is it just me?”

Lily laughs.

“Do you wanna try it? I’ll crack an egg over you right now, and we’ll find out.”

Our conversations tend to go like this: friendly witty repartee. Lily usually wins, not me.

“So I’ll look like you then, you mean?”

I’m referring to her white-blond hair, like a fried egg.

“Cold. Ice cold. Which is exactly what you’re not.”

“Why, thank you. I think you’re very attractive too.”

“I meant temperature-wise, dumbass.”

“Or did you?”

But sometimes I win.

I smile. I’ve dealt her into a corner.

She laughs. Her laugh is - g-d, it’s beautiful.

“Take your shoes off, come inside. There’s leftover breakfast,” I say.

Amina’s here. She’s wearing a black leather jacket, which is more my style than hers, and a cheetah print dress, which is definitely her. Her jacket matches her combat boots. She has cornrows today.

“So, on Buffy, I’m thinking that the vampires might, like, represent something? A blood-sucking, male-dominated patriarchy that withers when it sees the dawn.”

“Don’t you just think Sarah Michelle Gellar is hot?” asks Lily, drinking a smoothie.

“I don’t have to answer that.”

“I think your room, which has a cardboard cutout of Buffy, and a signed SMG poster answers that for me,” says Lily.

Amina laughs and covers her face. We all laugh with her.

“Hey, Ami, quick question. F**k marry kill - Buffy, Willow, and Angel,” I ask.

Amina considers this.

“Marry Buffy…” she begins tentatively. “Kill Angel obviously, I mean, I’m gay for God’s sake. F**k… Willow?”

“I’d marry Angel,” says Lily.

“What?” I ask.

“His abs are sweet abs. Maybe if I marry him, he’ll give me the secret to how to get them.”

“You could just ask him,” I say.

“Huh. Touche.”

“Hey, did I tell you guys about the horrid dream I had last night?” I say, knowing very well I didn’t.

“No,” Amina perks up. “What happened?”

Trust Ami to be interested. She’s always liked things like tarot cards and hellenic polytheism and dream interpretation.

I tell them.

“Oh. My. Actual. God,” says Amina. “A prophetic dream. Is this real life?”

“As we know it, it’s best to assume so,” says Lily.

“Those cards aren’t, like, normal tarot cards,” says Amina. “I’d be terrified if I were you.”

“I was terrified.” I’m still terrified.

“Well, I’d be too.”

“That wasp’s pretty freaky,” says Lily. She’s on her third smoothie.

“It was all freaky,” I say.

“A real freak show. Freaktacular.”

“Lily, take this seriously,” says Amina.

“I mean, I just don’t buy that it’s prophetic. It was vivid, sure, but it’s not real life.”

“Well, I know how it felt,” I say.

Lily says, “You’re right. It sure wasn’t tubular of me to deny your experiences. I’m sorry.”

“You know what we should do, girls, right?” asks Amina.

“What?” Lily and I ask at the same time.

“Solve this mystery,” says Amina. “Why did Sam here have this allegedly prophetic dream?”

“Cue X-Files theme,” says Lily.

“Lily, be serious.”


“But what if there isn’t a why? People dream. You know that. Maybe it’s just a dream,” counters Lily.

It wasn’t just a dream. My mind, body, and soul are in agreement.

“But summer’s so boring here,” says Amina. “This could be the thing to spice up our lives, as the one and only Spice Girls say. At any rate, this kind of stuff is beyond real. Trust me as a witch.”

“Fine,” says Lily. “I’ll entertain this foolish dream. But don’t come crying to me when you don’t find anything.”

“So where do you want to start?” I ask. “The library?”

“Here’s the plan.” Amina sounds uber excited. “Samara, you’re the gadgets girl, because you’re good at Tamagotchi. Lily, you’re the mathematics / messenger girl. You can roller skate, so you can move fast, right? Me? I’m the mystical advisor. Alright, team, we’re the Sunnydale Sailors. You hear me?”

“Can we think of a different name?” I ask, but I’m smiling.

“No,” says Amina. “Sam, you start out by drawing the cards as you remember them. I know you can’t draw but you’re the only one who remembers anything. And that’s another thing, Lily, if it was just a dream Sam here wouldn’t have remembered all of it.”

“You could be right. Magic isn’t real, though.”

Amina smiles with a wistful expression.

“But it could be real this summer.”

“Well enjoy living in this fantasy world. I’m out. Peace.”

Lily gathers her six empty smoothie cups under one arm and flashes a peace sign with the other. She opens the door, closes it, and is gone.

Amina stares at the door with a judgmental expression on her face. That’s an expression she frequently has.

“Who does she think she is? She only likes things she can trust, like numbers and skates. Well, newsflash, but the world is 95 percent mystery and five percent magic.”

I take out a spare piece of printer paper and begin to draw. The queen. The mouse. The forest. The woman. When they’re all done, Amina gazes at them with a thoughtful expression.

“Well, anyway, we’ll consider this tomorrow. This - the dream - is our first clue. Homework for you: write down the entirety of the dream, hide it, show it to me when you’re done. Hey - you know how I think best? Destiny’s Child. Play it.”

“I thought you’d never ask.”

When “Say My Name” begins to play, Amina sings her heart out along with it. She grabs a hairbrush and uses it as a microphone. We laugh and I show her my cool Tamagotchi tricks. We drink smoothies. In time, we forget about the dream, the mystery, and the tantalizing promise of a summer that isn’t dull and doesn’t smell like garbage for once.

© 2018 penny gingyrose

Author's Note

penny gingyrose
I'd love to hear y'all's thoughts! And constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated! Luv ya!

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Added on January 20, 2018
Last Updated on January 20, 2018
Tags: lesbian, bisexual, magical realism, girls, girl power, california, judaism, kabbalah


penny gingyrose
penny gingyrose

nashville, TN

I'm just a gayJewish girl living in Nashville. I'd really appreciate constructive criticism! more..