It’s a salty warm day and the tide is low. You’re shopping at the local grocer’s for the first time this month. It was almost May. The only edible items that had been occupying your pantry for the past few weeks were a can of corn chowder, a box half-full of stale saltine crackers, and a bottle of whiskey. All of which you refused to lay a hand on-the chowder because you’re allergic to corn, the stale saltines because nobody likes stale crackers anyway, and the whiskey because of shame.

The fight had been short, brief with harsh words sliced through the air here or there, jabbing at that sentiment buried deep within both of your chests. Her eyes had glistened with sorrow and that cruel look drenched in regret hurt more than any words, whether they be spoken or left unsaid but still somehow known. The kids had been huddling at the top of the stairs throughout the episode, supposed to be tucked in snug comforters whisked away on clouds of naivety and blithe tidings.

You missed them. Not more than you missed her, but not less either. More like, in a separate manner. The same way you loved them-not more, not less; just separately. Like how the container filled with “lots of pulp” OJ sitting on the cold shelf next to the bottle of Sunny D is your favorite type of orange juice, but then you still love the Sunny D just as much because it satiates your thirst for a different sort of taste.

Teetering between choosing the farm fresh organic eggs or the cheaper dozen, you settle for the cheaper one, because you don’t care too much about allegedly safer options the same way she did. As you grasp the cardboard carton, though, your hand locks in a slight cramp and the dozen of eggs falls crashing to the floor with reverberant skidding of the eggs in several directions, each cracking in one particular manner or other. The yolk of the eggs splays up in tides of yellow gooeyness, gushing everywhere. You can’t help but be reminded of the time Johnny Barlow, a boy from your youth, found an egg nest in the sycamore tree out by the school yard.

There had been three petite eggs settled in the bowl of the carefully crafted nest, each unique in a slender unnoticeable manner. They were tinted an off white, with a morsel of a bluish pallor. It was a sparrow’s nest. You knew, because the tree it rested in was in perfect view of the window you sat next to in class. You always peered out it, gazing at the azure sky and flickering your eyes at the tiny speck of a creature flittering about tending to the nest.

When Johnny had found the nest he brought it over to the corner of the school building, out of sight of any teachers. Some boys and girls huddled around him tittering about this or that. You were on the outskirts. A sickening feeling had been bubbling from within the pit of your gut since the time you saw he had found the nest and climbed the tree to get it. Wide grins of triumph echoed across his face over and over again. Then he was holding a baseball bat. It was wooden and old. The nest was sitting on the ground and you didn’t want to look, but you couldn’t take your eyes off the three small shells: inanimate objects with intangible, unreal lives.

A stocker from the store comes up to you with a deep frown clouding his eyes. He looks at you and loathes you because you made a mess and now it’s up to him to clean it up. A whimper of an apology croaks out your throat, but it doesn’t make a difference; the man still hates you.


You see her there standing, smiling, looking. A slight whisper of the past. She’s looking at you, waiting for your response, but you can’t move, can’t speak. You just see her and take in her everything. She appears older, of course. Faint wrinkles trace lines of wisdom across her forehead and tiny crinkles frost the ends of her eyes, recounting the laughs she’s shared through the years. You recognize her eyes; they are the same as always. Like how sometimes, in the right lighting, they glistened like dew on a bundle of blue hydrangeas in the early morning, just like the ones that had always inhabited the window of the local florist down the street.

Her dress is knee-length and lilac, a conservative style. But you know better. Her lips play soft musical undertones of vivacity, smiling in the teasing manner you had once known so well. And her untamed brunette curls cascade down to her shoulders, hinting at the seditious spirit you know is tucked tightly inside her buttoned up collar, pulsing to break free.

Danny McAllister?

She repeats your name, this time with a more questioning, hesitant air unsure of the certainty she had moments before that it was you. But it was you. And it was her. Disbelief dissipates through the air as the shock of her appearance here and now coils into a strange comfort brought on from seeing her generous face once again.

Acknowledging her finally with the shy smile from your boyhood, you scuff your feet a tad on the floor and tentatively brush your hand once or twice through your overgrown mane ending the sudden nervous movement of your hand with a slight scratch of your scruffy chin. She always had held a certain power over you, one that made your hair stand on end and heart pound buttery beats, electrifying your nerves.

Pleasantries are exchanged. Glances passed. Hands sweated. Eyes avoided. She walks to the cashier. You walk with her despite not having completed your shopping, but there is no matter; you just don’t want to lose her right now-you don’t want to be alone again. So you walk with her and she buys her groceries; you buy yours. Then the two of you are walking outside and you help her load her bags into her 1956 Chevy.

Still runs like a dream.

The two of you stand and look at each other for a while, neither of you quite sure how to end it, this outlandish run-in.

Take a walk?

She smiles. You return it. So the two of you saunter down to the shore. She brushes off her sandals and you slither out of your loafers.

The sand gritting between your toes feels strange; at first you don’t like it, because of its foreignness, but then it’s soft and warm and you begin to know it, the sand on the beach. Slight gusts of wind breathe through your bones, sparsely phased by the humanness of your skin. The gusts arouse her hair, tame it, and then free it. You look at her because she’s beautiful. You hear her kind voice, her tender laugh, and you almost hear her fleeting thoughts too. But not quite. Still, there she is looking out across the coast. She was born for the sea.

Some deeper words float the wind; words about the past, what the two of you once knew, what you had thirsted to know. Did you know them now? No. You may know less now, but no matter. She smiles, this time differently, sadly. It’s for you.

You’ve changed, and she can tell. What once drew her to you is gone now, and you’re drawn even more to her because you want it back.

You are now a man of the world, made by the world, led by the world.

The sunlight glistens her eyes as the water moves up and down, reflecting them, matching them. You don’t love her. It’s something different, something you’re not sure how to explain. But there she is again: standing, smiling, looking. Her eyes are blue and watery.

You return to the boat you’ve inhabited for the past few weeks. You stayed with a friend at first, but then the time came when you had exhausted too much of his generosity, so you moved to the boat. The salt air tastes bleak and stark in your mouth.

Inside, the phone taunts you, engulfs you in its presence communicating subliminal messages to the guilt and loneliness caught deep within your gut. It’s black and cold and cruel. You pick it up and call your wife.

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