The ocean is blue to look at it from the house, but that’s because it holds the sky’s reflection. Up close it’s green and when the sun sits behind it in the west the caps are like buttermilk. Cold is a word we use to describe things we keep in the fridge; this water is something else. It bites hard and deep and it numbs like poison. When I dive there is an absence of color and I forget where I am. I surface, my head spinning, and chup’s shiny head is bobbing a few feet to my left. He fights for the wind to say exactly what I’m thinking. It’s the perfect expletive.
In the restaurant c jane looks like a Madonna for sale in a Tijuana gift shop. She is radiant and benevolent and given wholly to the child in her arms. She orders the Mole Poblano and she shares her chicken with me. The salsa is hot and rich, but they’ve used stewed tomatoes that I know came from a can. I can’t get over that. They say the chips are good, but they are made of corn flour and I can’t eat them. c jane claims this will keep me from connecting with the group; that by not sharing the food, I will not foster the bonds the rest of them do. I think this is hog wash and I tell her so. Her laugh is a fountain that flourishes in a long plume at the top and cascades into staccato bursts as it descends.
Conversation around a fire will inevitably turn to private things. Adults who have left their children at home and find themselves in front of a fire will divulge details that would make them blush to the ears in different light. They pass around shortbread cookies and they look delicious. And there are moments, there in the dark, where faces are brought in flickering brevity out of nowhere, when I think that conversations in heaven will look like this. When the kids are in bed, and shortbread cookies won’t feel like an indulgence.
My daughter is crying over the phone. The loud, gasping, slurping kind. She misses Mom and she can’t sleep. And my hands are given the softness of her limbs and my arms know the weight of her frame. I can smell her shampoo and I want to ask someone to drive me the ten hours back through the desert where I can lay next to her and steady her breathing.
Walking down the beach after the sun is just a dim wash behind us we can see into the houses that glow out of the dark. Big families around opulent tables. The Mayor has worked it out and he believes all he needs to do is ask the right person and they’ll give him a million dollars. Just because of the math of it. We dream in the dark, our plans as real as the path spilt ahead of us. I find my wife’s hand and it feels good and soft and clean. I picture the distance between us and our life, the endless running landscape, and I think that with a few kids trotting along at our knees, this would just about do.
A million dollars wouldn’t hurt.
I am c jane and this was beautiful.
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