This is the thirty-third in a series of fifty-two weekly one-page stories, if the word ‘page’ has any meaning in this format. I thank you for your patronage and wish you good health and peace and imaginal adventure in the coming year.
It’s that old familiar feeling. Ed is on a yacht that is leaving the harbor, heading out to the open sea for a three-week cruise, and he realizes he doesn’t like anyone on board and no one on board likes him. As he stands at the aft railing and watches the sea swallow the land, his brother Sal slings an arm over Ed’s shoulders and says, “I feel like I should just get this off my chest at the outset. I still blame you for my divorce.” “This again?” Sal says, “You’re the one who encouraged Ginny to take that cabinetry class. It was fine that she made more money than me as long as I did the woodworking in the family.” Sal had had sex with Ed’s wife long before the cabinetry class, but Ed doesn’t remind him of it because Sal already knows that he did it and would probably give the same explanation about why it wasn’t a betrayal that he has given the other hundred times they’ve discussed it. Ed is about to give his explanation to Sal, for the hundredth time, about how Ginny came to him and asked him about cabinetry classes, and that all Ed did was make a recommendation, but the sight of the mother dolphin frolicking with her baby just beneath the surface of the turquoise water alongside their boat causes him to say instead, “I’m really sorry, bro, I should have realized how much that would upset the equilibrium of your marriage.” “Look,” Sal says, and points to the deck above them, where their two young girlfriends are running around playing tag in tiny bikinis while the bearded captain and crew watch them with undisguised interest. The women shriek and laugh. They are sisters, Alma and Ina. Ed and Sal picked them up in a bar a month ago. They are aggressive, impatient, petty, grasping, duplicitous, and fantastic in bed—a mystery almost as old as the universe itself. There is a limit to how long Ed likes to have Sal’s arm slung over his shoulder, and Sal often exceeds it, which sets off a battle inside Ed about why he can’t just accept love from his brother, even if the love isn’t love of the actual Ed, but a crude yearning aimed at a blurry semi-Ed-shaped target that is the stand-in for Ed in Sal’s mind. Oh, Alma is incredible. If only Ed didn’t have to talk to her or see her at all except from a distance, or while they were having sex, and maybe also for ten seconds after, before his disillusion came back. Ed wonders what Alma feels like to herself when she is lying to him, or helping herself to two hundred dollars from his wallet, or sulking for half the day after Ed, who is paying for her whole ocean voyage, has failed to pull out her chair for her at breakfast. He wants her, now. He wants to have unprotected sex with her. He wants to conceive with her a baby dolphin, who will be free of all human encumbrance, and will swim fast through the clear water, its worst fate merely to be devoured by a great white shark.