Anisha and the Rocks

When Anisha went down to the beach near the river mouth and out by the houses that were nothing more than shacks of wood and scrap metal, corrugated to look like the waves or the sand blown by the wind, she didn’t expect to find anything more than sand, shells, and the Rocks.

“Alright there, Nisha!” her mother called as she headed off. “You’d better be home by summer–your daddy’s cookin!”

But Anisha was already out the door and her strappy sandles were slapping the hard packed gravel road as she ran.

If she was lucky Mica would be down by the river mouth and his friends all of them. They always told the greatest stories, picked up from the fisher village that doubled as a meazily sea port.

Once she was out of eye sight from her house she slowed to a walk. Her skinny legs seemed to dangle out in front of her with each step she took. They’d begun to seem unruly to her, which wasn’t a good feeling, more like someone had added on some inches that she wasn’t aware of and she kept stubbing her toes. She’d thought she’d broken one the other day. Smashed it into one of the rickety kitchen chairs.

“Nisha! You gotta be more careful!” cried her mother, as Anisha hit the deck and squirmed around on the ground in pain.

But her toe hadn’t been broke. It felt fine now, and she flexed it just to make sure.

The unpaved road was lined by trees. They arched over and gave a smattering of shaded shimmers as the wind blew and brought the sound of tree-whispers and the smell of sea salt. She knew, just through the trees on her left was the river. If she listened real close she could just make out it’s murmur. But with the shivering of the trees it was difficult.

It took her ten minutes to get to the place where the road ended and the trail began, then another five to come to the river mouth and the beach.

Nobody was there but the gulls. They wheeled in the vast blue sky that met the vast blue ocean out in the distance. Thirty meters out to see the Rocks of Boheama loomed. Anisha had heard stories from Mica that young men from the village climbed the tallest, Bo’emata, nearly a full grand in height. But you had to climb it in at low tide, and more than one man had died in the attempt over the years, Mica said.

6/27/15 Imp

She was as old as the day the last remnants of the glacier melted, and she had a long memory. She was as old as the roots, and older than the fallen, washed up trees. She sometimes changed her tune and shape, but mostly stayed the same. Her cousin assaulted her daily. See how the waves hit the shore and recede, pummeling it with habitual nature. Sometimes only hanging to her with the smooth ripples of the low tide.

A cat scampered across the open beach. Its eye were deep in the night. Its tail a bushy mop of fur. He gazed up at the master–the moon. It was friends with the long beach and her bucking cousin the sea. Her paws were damp and and that infuriated her. It always did. But sometimes, when dealing with such powers as these, you had to make some sacrifices.

She sat on a dry sandbar and twisting herself licked the fur on her back. She’d almost had enough, then she turned and bent down and with her jaws, like a dirty dog shoveled some sand into her mouth and swallowed with effort. Her stomach began to boil immediately.

Not so fare, the world as this. The Witch she had learned from had used beakers and bowls, pots, pans, and other containers. The only thing the cat had was her own stomach for mixing such concoctions as this.

After a moment of wreching, she vomited. The taste of bile drowned out the smell of water and fish and decaying things. Then the smell of that hit here and she gagged some more, this time against her own volition. The pile of sick on the ground, illuminated by the moon, wasn’t hairy, and didn’t resemble the the sand she had just eaten. Instead it was bold and solid and scurried about in confusion.

It thrashed its limbs and yammered, rolling over onto its back and splaying out its little wings.

“Behave yourself,” said the cat, trying to ignore the hateful smell of the creature.

The imp looked at her. She looked at it. It was batty–she’d watched them fly before but never caught one–though this had more of a snout.

“Berimbo,” it said.

“You are no longer in the sad place you were born. You are now my slave,” said the cat.

“Is my favorite coffee,” said the imp. “Can’t do nothin’ ‘til I get me coffee.”

The cat knew coffee, but she’d never liked the smell, nor the flavor–once as a kitten she’d clawed open a bag of it her human had left out, and eaten some. It had made her sick on multiple fronts.

“There is no coffee,” she said. “You’ll have to do without.”

The imp rolled over onto its stomach. Sand was matted to its wings. Its ugly snout twitched in her direction. It was about half her size, she imagined she could kill it if it attacked her. She extended her claws–little daggers in the night.

“You’re isn’t the usual sort,” said the imp.

“No,” said the cat. “I don’t suppose I am.”

6/26/15 He Missed

The slow night darkened. Before him the tide had nearly come in. The sand was cool under his bare feet, but the heat of the sun hadn’t yet dissipated from his skin. The mountains that blocked the horizon were rimmed with purple, then orange, then yellow, before the space around them became the sky. He knew those mountains. He’d climbed them with his uncle. His uncle who’d been like a father. His aunt who’d been like a mother.

They’d not worry about him for some more hours. He often stayed out late, though not at bars or clubs. Usually where he was now. Sitting on a log on the beach and wondering what came next.

A dog and its master was a long way down the beach. He watched the dog run from beach log to beach log, smelling, lifting its leg, then to the next. Dog and master walked toward him. Their silhouettes taking on new meaning. He could see now that the woman had longer hair. Her dog was a collie and the white of its chest was gray in the failing light. The dog brought a smell of sea water closer to him than before. The woman brought a memory to mind that had been swept away by the currents of time.

“Evening,” she said.

“Hey. Hey pup,” he said to the woman, then the dog. It stopped and sniffed his hand. The woman stopped to watch it do so.

He looked up at her and said, “Don’t I know you?”

“Think you do.”

“I do.”

The dog, bored with the small exchange, scampered off to smell something new.

“We were once in love,” she said.

“I’ve never been in love,” he said.

“In love with this beach.”

A heron swooped low and landed in the tide down the beach.

“In love with places, not people,” he said.

“So you can’t love?”

“This is weird,” he told her. “I don’t really know you.”

“But once you did.”

He looked down the beach. The dog had gone. He didn’t know where.

“You’re dog left you.”

“He’ll be back–or I’ll find him,” she said.

He couldn’t tell in the twilight, but he thought she had a rather long, beakish nose. He couldn’t tell in his memory if he’d gone to high school with her, or community college, or what–but she did seem familiar.

“Have a good night,” he said.

“I want you to love me like you used to do,” she said.

“I never did.”

“I already said you have. But you left.”

He had left. Not her. But these shores and found himself for years, until months ago, in a landlocked country of dirt and sand and the hottest sun rocks he’d ever seen or felt. The cracking of the bullets leaving chambers and the whispered talk of chemicals. And now he was back and couldn’t make sense of any of it.

“I’m here now,” he said.

“And yet you don’t remember me,” said the woman.

He looked past her to the water. It lapped at the shore. He missed the things he missed while at war. Even as he experienced them he missed them as well.