We just got back.
I spent every day in the sea; it was too hot to do otherwise. The water is so salty
over there; it dries tight and pale on your skin. I felt stinging clean the whole time.
One afternoon we waded through the suffocating air across a bridge over the marsh.
Florida swamps are low, carpeted in thick lime green. They are too still for comfort,
caked in stiff heat, submerged like a dangerous secret. They are the stuff of movie
scenes and what lies under the beds of scared children.
As I walked over the bridge, naked wood & glossy nail new, I thought; we
are like fresh bones in the yellow sun, both too blonde and shiny against the
murk. I am scared of the most ridiculous things and not enough of the real ones.
In the mornings we drank brewed coffee out of big red mugs, which we wrapped both
palms around. When out to eat the tables were wide, our plates and arms scrawled
lazily. No small, sharp edged squares caging our elbows that I’ve become so used to.
It was like being at home.
At 4pm every day storms would knot the skies purple until they burst, exploding over
top of us, lightning splitting the swollen clouds. It would rain and rain until all of a
sudden, like a child after a tantrum, it would stop and the sun would come out as if
nothing had happened.
The last day we were there I saw a little girl running up and down the beach picking
up shells. She was at that Lolita age; squatting down fast with knees wide open, heels
sunk into sand, but when standing she would comb her feathery hair behind one ear
with slow, practised fingers, peering down the beach as if remembering something.
She switched between child and girl like a sparrow hops around a bit of bread. I
thought of Charlie the rest of the day; she turns 9 next week.
It was so nice to get away, I felt like I could breath again. People in the city hold their
breath, scared if they let it out it might all escape at once and they’ll evaporate. You
start doing the same thing without realising it.
We talked a lot too – mostly about how fast everything had happened, how it was so
much for time to swallow in one mouthful. How we were both terrified the world was
going to choke and spit us out.
I miss the fresh air already.
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