S. Miller married his wife twice. The first time wasn’t quite right. (She was making her rounds at the hospital and he was in love with another woman). I was there. It was in the cool rarefied air with spring snow and mud on the ground. They sang: I am an orphan, on God’s highway. I couldn’t sing. I went to bed in my room. The whole mountain, the entire night, heaved in the dry muted expanse.
“He must be waiting for his own Nausea or something of that sort.”
As I stepped out of the streetcar and walked away the men inside were still talking about how they knew the people they did and what they’d eaten earlier. They were going on to a place at which they would probably arrive. I watched the train speed from the station, on an escalator in a deserted tunnel under sallow lights. The cold wind was ripping in mid-summer and I thought: but I do want to live. The evening was broad and flat, as always.
“In the high heavens there is a roadway…”
We were lined up on the beach in the dark as if we’d been ordered to. That’s how we fell about when we reached the spot after meandering unguided through the eroding sand path and overgrown brambles. Your head was next to mine; I could hear you sigh. “You’re a misanthrope,” I said as we all gazed up at the placid stars in their midnight. Someone asked why something was so bright and Walter said it was our galaxy, the long trail of nebular debris, cast off into black holes, unresolved bodies.
We lived in a sweltering heat, a bright dry heat burning the life out of the day. You could hear the high whine and hum of people running the air conditioning. We ran in and out of their houses. No one walked outside, just some soundless teenagers sometimes, in t-shirts. The streets were empty and glaring. The canals rushed and sparkled.
Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!, The Indiana Review, Fourteen Hills, The New Orleans Review, and other American literary journals. Presently she has been nominated by Short, Fast & Deadly for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.
(image: Jessica Lange)