A Short Story
They woke up upended from dreams of running bears and log cutting. Outside their bedroom, hammers constructed someone else’s life. After some irrelevant grumbles within bright screens, their limbs vision splayed under salmon pink sheets, they ground the coffee, three pills, tea kettle, the parrot's screeched, and maybe the news, if they hadn’t read it already. They sucked oranges as one made country toast. Their kitchen window was kicked with buttery sunlight, warming the skin — the old routine.
I can’t stand being in this with you sometimes, but I love you.
Love you, and ditto.
The sheets needed to be washed. How? All this time? How? No way.
There was too much. All values, all organization, all structural levels of importance and of fucking around, was gone, for the time being, God willing. Both had all the time in the world to do exactly what they wanted, to become who they thought they were. And they were, only the throughline had been interrupted. Affronted with the commodity they were now flush with left them somewhat paralyzed to fulfill what they imagined they would naturally become with this new flow of freedom. This was a confrontation of getting what they wanted, but not how they wanted to achieve it.
Let’s go to the beach today.
Yes, for a little bit.
Joggers and electric borders; cross-contamination cumulus; oh’ that closed down too; can the bison get it; wonder what they’re doing; is it safe to go to this 7–11; let’s do the Walgreens instead; glad to hear the waves still sound the same.
There are a lot of people here.
Aware as can be.
They walked the beach trying not to note the obvious: hills, dunes, seagulls, wave breaks, lukewarm wind, the endless blue. They admit they didn’t recognize the beauty before. They did, but not enough. Love returned when taken away. The snowplow mini’s and the beach tents and long-abandoned campfires were painted with a thick veneer of sorrowful distance, like seeing a long-time lover after a break up at a party no one said they’d been invited to. Nature knew this feeling.
Let’s sit here, near this.
Look at all the bobbing bodies out there.
It must be so cold.
Wetsuits are surprisingly warm.
Behind them, there were two people close together on the curled concrete blasted graffiti tsunami walls.
They must live together.
Tiny white balls of singular Sand Pipers skittered toward the ocean’s edge as the bubbled froth pulled home. Their beaks poked, gathered, and fed hastily. As a new wave crashed and pushed forward, they ran in fear and hid as one through the legs of a lone fisherman. He was shaped like a number, but they couldn’t decide which one. He wore plastic trousers with a clean white shirt. A spectrum of blues surrounded him, his gaze locked on the unattainable horizon. The pole bent onward, its strong thin body fixed tight into the sand. They watched the line tug and release, at the whim of an infinite number of variables.
The fishermen’s eye did not split from the skyline when they went home.
We should do that again soon.
Yes, we should.