“We live on an island!” Mary shouted into the phone. John could hear his mother-in-law’s cooing, mock-interested voice on the other line, “Oh, that’s nice isn’t it? It must be nice living on an island!” John made his way down the porch steps carefully, feeling the strain on his ACL, that threat of it starting all over again. The sand was cold. Not cool, cold, and blue from the moonlight. He puffed on his long cigar as he headed to the waterline, remembering to look up and enjoy the view. He tried hard to be happy for Mary, but when he was alone he felt like he was in a box, or blinkered like a horse, stuck in his own head. The ocean’s rough and jagged face for miles out to the horizon reflected the moon like a scintillating white highway. They had been whale-watching, that was a surprise sprung on them by Genevieve. John had seen several, Mary had seen none, though John several times had taken her up on his shoulders against everyone’s advice, pointed and tried to make her see. She had seen men being murdered. She had seen a man’s head hit the pavement, and him curl up like a spider and become a vegetable. That, John thought, was his fucking fault, and he could never undo that. He spat into the waves and watched the white foam float, retreat back with the tide. It would never end.
Those whales sung. Their sound was known to carry through the waters so powerfully it would come up into the boats—underneath them, and reverberate its deep and doleful aquatic chorus.
“Baby!” Genevieve called from the patio, leaning out over the railing as though it would project her voice further, he would care quicker to come back into the house, into his guilt and confusion. Here he knew he was lost, there was no longer any questioning. Genevieve held out her phone, rattled it. “Please baby!” Soon she went back inside with the phone to her ear.
John drew deeply on his cigar, enjoying the coldness and obscurity out under the moon, the deep and hollow sound of the ocean. He hoped maybe Genevieve would suggest whale watching tomorrow—later that day he corrected, checking his watch. He would roll his eyes and curse then say yes. Maybe Mary would see them playing out there this time. Maybe they’d sing for him.
Thanks for checking out my short story.
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