In a Rented Room, Recently

My dream is a flash of almost dying over and over. Each breath makes itself known as the last I’ll ever take and I have pity for myself when I beat the odds and breathe again.

I am missing the ending.

The story of my dream has me on a different continent, in a different century and I am a mother. The man in this dream is a stranger and I love him.

In my awake life, I am lovesick for a full day because I haven’t met him and I never will. My family wonders what is wrong, I cannot tell them the truth.

My feelings for him are blood-red and full of knives and anchors.

There is nowhere to go; he will not be there.

Coffee is made and the sun is still low, so I sit at a plastic table by the warm, pissfull pool and read a book by Annie Dillard.

Cars drive up and down the beach and I curse them all. There is too much trash to pick up when we wander around the shore at night.

My husband and I throw our nephew into the crashing waves for what feels like forever. The sound of his little body splitting a fresh wave in two worries me, even though I know he is invincible.

Our nephew never tires of this and only retreats after much convincing from us. “We do need to eat,” I say, but he is nourished from this alone.

His brown skin shines like gold in the sun, airborne for only seconds. I want to suspend him there with that feeling. I want all of us to stay there.

When he remembers the signal, after every crash, one or two thumbs will breach the surface before the rest of him. When he forgets, he can hear that I’m serious and he remembers again, for a little while.

He fights his way back to one of us and we heave him with all of our might, each time wondering if we’ve thrown him a little too hard.

Thumbs up.

I make a rule that my niece and nephew can no longer scream at the beach. I make this rule for the sake of making a rule, because I do not know how to let a child live.

A scream, I realize and admit after a time, is primal and necessary. I tell them to scream as much as they want, that I made a mistake. They do not ask what “primal” means because that is how they live.

They trust me. They hold fast to my words and do as I say.

I cannot understand why.

I replay everything I’ve ever said to them and am ashamed.

The screams come back and I scream with them and our day will end, eventually, with some disappointment.

We wonder why it has to end at all.

 

 

 

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