The purest, clearest water

January 10, 2014

The truck halted on the grassy track along the edge of Aunu’u, and Tino gave the orders. Shalom macheted down a small tree to knock a set of green coconuts free, and Francis shimmied up the palm trunk to loose them from above. They sliced off the tops and handed each of us one to drink. 

It’s the purest, clearest water there is, Tino said. God blessed us this way.


He taught us how to use the shell to scoop out the meat and eat it. This is the Samoan way, he said. Now you try.



The emptiness of Bora Bora

January 6, 2014

Bora Bora’s pretty much empty, said the ponytailed Canadian. In Thailand, there’s such a scene, but no one goes to Bora Bora.

Yes, said the Dutch woman across the breakfast table. I have seen so many empty beaches on this trip. That’s fine sometimes, but not all the times.

Sometimes, the Canadian said, you just need a crowd.



After the sunburn

January 4, 2014

After the sunburn, my arms peel, the skin coming off in rolls after a shower, in flakes the rest of the time.

I scratch my arms and think of snow, and of whether or not these shavings could be pressed into a voodoo doll.

It’s not if, it’s when, I say, and I’m talking about skin cancer, and he points at me, hard, the way that means be quiet and don’t tempt fate. I roll around on the bed, shedding skin, wishing I was a little less Irish and a little more Basque.


The perfect light

December 18, 2013

She did not ask for the perfect light. It just settled there, at the edge of the horizon, changing slightly minute by minute. She soaked it in that entire hour, letting it fill her with its pink and orange radiance.

Sometime, she thought, she would be in total darkness, and this reservoir would sustain her. Sometime, she thought, she would need to drink from it until morning.


Not the future we expected

December 16, 2013

Night falls on this fallow land, and we make minor-keyed music on instruments built from recycled parts. Outside, a dog barks, inconsolable in the cold and dark. He settles down only after a passerby lobs a rock into his yard. It lands with a thud near his head. He knows better than to say more, then.

This was not the future we expected. We light wood with scavenged matches. We huddle in the flickering firelight, telling stories of the world we once knew. We each have lost someone who could not put shoulder to this dark wheel.


Ripping away

December 14, 2013

I asked you to be honest with me, he said. I asked you to be true.

I was true, she said, but she understood why he thought she wasn’t. She talked in her sleep of things that had not happened but sounded so very, very real.

I love you, he said. I don’t know why you can’t adhere.

She wanted to stick to him, wanted so badly to do so. But she felt herself ripping away, one hand lifted, the other barely hanging on. Her dreams, they were so much more real than he was.



December 12, 2013

He made her a playlist for her journey. This should keep your ears happy, he said.

He thought it better to tell her that than what he really wanted to tell her, which was that he was going to miss both her earlobes, and the way the skin right there was so soft, and that he was going to miss saying things only she could hear.

He imagined her in her window seat, her earbuds tucked into place. He imagined her hearing the music in place of his voice.


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