Day 10: Eggs

Speckled. Multi-colored. Left in grass. Balanced on eaves. Another, always just in your peripheral vision. It was unsurprising that the children thought it was an Easter egg hunt, even though it was two weeks too late, and the eggs were, well, big. There were a range of sizes, but even the smallest were too big to contain a chicken, or if they did, a chicken so large as to be monstrous. Maybe more monstrous than what the egg actually contained? Just as anything miniaturized becomes cute, anything bigger than it should be strikes the mind and eye as wrong.

Some kids began to gather them. Too big for baskets, they stacked them like cairns in the backyard. More active parents, stopped their children before they even began. They called Animal Control. They listened to hold music, temporarily interrupted with tips on avoiding rabies, touting the Animal Control website, which in truth was still under construction since 2001. A clever gutter cleaning service quickly rebranded themselves as egg hunters, and became the town’s go-to.

But we wondered, what was inside? Leaving eggs everywhere, some hidden, many in plain sight seemed a strange strategy. I wanted to know more. So, while neighbors eagerly had their eggs removed, mine stayed put. I called Dr. Penny, a nickname she’d had even before she became a doctor. Back when we were undergrads, and she was the serious one. She’d been dating a friend, but after they broke up, Penny was the friend, and Flora was just a person I used to know.

“Ridiculous, of me to think that as a zoologist, I could date a woman named Flora,” Penny said more than once. “I pray, I never meet a woman named Fauna.”

She arrived just in time. A neighborhood organization that I hadn’t known existed were trying to force me to remove the eggs. They thought they were a possible menace, or detrimental to property values. But Dr. Penny arrived, placing official looking tape around my property, and a sign that read to not to disturb the site, per order of Dr. Penelope Landis.

“I’m deputizing you as my field assistant,” she said to me, “We’re going to be famous. Well, zoologist famous, which is actually not great. But conservatives on the internet are going to hate us, whatever we discover.”

We catalogued all the eggs on my property. Took pictures of them. Measured them with calipers without disturbing them. She’d tap on the shell, listen to them with a stethoscope. When there was nothing to do but wait, she had me draw them, recreating the patterns. Speckled. Sunset. Cow spots.

“Is this busy work?” I asked.

“Do you want to be idle?”

We’d drink cocktails in the evenings, and she’d tell me about all the girlfriends she’d had since college. The stories she didn’t share on Facebook because they were too embarrassing to share with coworkers and high school acquaintances, but made me miss her retroactively. I wished we were still best friends, even though we’d never have called each other best friends in the first place.

We were on our first pot of coffee when we heard the first egg crack open. It was so loud, we heard it from inside. We rushed to the backyard, to see a chick over a foot long, it’s blue feathers still plastered down.

“It’s beautiful,” she said.

The next egg contained a horned lizard. Another had something like an armadillo. One was just filled with chocolate, cracking on its own, and just spilling out everywhere. Another held another egg, and then another. One, to Dr. Penny’s dismay, was filled with flowers.

Neighbors were crowding around the edges of my property, just for a glimpse, taking pictures with their phones. For years after, people would claim the whole thing was a hoax. Sometimes, it makes me mad, but whenever I hear that first bird singing from her nest, I don’t really mind.

Day 9: Light

The rock garden is my favorite chamber. It’s the farthest point from the central chamber, a giant cave where most of our homes are located. Our settlement is pretty social in general. Community is how we’ve survived this long. Loners like me are pretty rare, and I don’t really feel like I’m that much of a loner. Sometimes, I just like the quiet of the rock garden. Kitty would join me, our fingers intertwined as we walk, only letting go as we enter the chamber. But, she hasn’t been around so much these days.

Still, I like the garden. Water drips from the ceiling, attracting moss. Green is most common, but there is blue, red, and orange as well. There is rarely much color variation in the Underground. There are hints of paint on some walls that suggest we used to have a whole spectrum of colors, but they’re faded and chipped. Grays, browns and greens are most common. My mother used to tell me the story of the bargain our ancestors made, when the end was coming, they gave up certain types of light just to live. She said color was a type of light. I don’t know about that. I guess, I’d give up the Rock Garden if I had to. Now that it’s just me, I wonder if I ever wanted to be alone here in the first place.

I hear somebody skid on rocks, and then exclaim, “Shit!”

Kitty enters the chamber from a passage I’d never noticed before. Her knee bleeding. I’ve never seen her bleed before, and maybe that’s what makes me really look at her, instead of at the Kitty shaped shadow I know so well. Her hair seems lighter, her skin darker, but not dirty. Her eyes are doing something weird.

“Hey,” she says, “I slipped. Can you grab me some of the blue moss? My dad says it’s good for wounds.”

I peel some moss off of the central column. It comes off easily. When we were younger, and we played here, we’d grab handfuls of moss. It would always regrow by the next cycle, or be replaced with a different variant. Still, the rock was never bare.

Kitty sat where I had been sitting. I pressed the moss against her knee. It’s been weeks since we’ve been close enough to touch. I sometimes see her in the evenings with her family, but she’s been extra reserved. She hasn’t been singing, even when her parents try to coax her. I worry that she’s found somebody else, but she seems withdrawn from everybody. Her secret is bigger than love.

“How does that feel?” I ask.

“Good. Thank you.”

She touches my hair, runs her fingers through the tangles.

“Will you come with me?” she says.

“Where?”

“With me. I can’t tell you unless you already agree. It’s not fair, but nothing has ever been fair. The deals our ancestors made were unfair in a world that was already as unfair as possible. But I promise, I’ll never tell you that something is fair when it isn’t.”

“I’ll go with you. When?”

She stands. Dropping the moss.

“Now.”

All along the way, she sings, and I understand why she hasn’t been singing at the nightly fires. Her song is just syllables, like so many of our songs, but it feels new. It’s filled with the discovery of an unseen world. Anybody who heard it, would know what she is up to. I’m afraid, but she holds my hand. When we reach the light, it hurts so much, but I’ve made my choice.

Day 8: Dream

Tess has joined the dream.

“Shit, what the hell is going on?”

Matt was in a dark hallway, being followed by something that could have been a childhood bully, a goblin or his co-worker that droned on too long at meetings. It seemed to change with each step.

Cleo was dancing, but clearly getting tired, and the audience looked bored.

“Oh shit, Tess, are you here now?” Cleo stopped dancing, “Matt, forget that thing, Tess is here.”

“Oh, thank god.”

The hallway and monster disappeared. The audience and stage disappeared. There were just the three of them in an empty space waiting to be filled.

The programmed was billed as “Zoom for Dreams.” Virtual reality, but better.

“Is this supposed to be in black and white?” Tess asked.

“That’s how I dream,” Matt said.

Tess reached out and grabbed Matt’s hand. She concentrated, and then everything was in vibrant color. Cleo’s lips were such a bright red, brighter even than the shade she wore in the waking world.

“Wow, color. How did you know that that would work?”

“It’s a dream, why shouldn’t it work?”

Cleo snapped and they were in a park. Matt blinked, and they all had pink ice cream cones that tasted like chocolate.

“So, how have you guys been?”

“Good. Eric was a little weird about me trying this. I think he thought I’d do it with him first. But, I wanted to test it with you two first. I wanted to see how much subconscious bleed there is.”

In the time they’d been friends, this was Matt’s first serious relationship. It was understandable if he wasn’t ready for Eric to see everything yet.

“Ugh, you two are so cute. Even when you’re fighting,” said Cleo. Her ice cream had turned into a bird.

“We don’t fight, we… squabble.”

“Aaargh, even cuter!”

“Tess, how have you been?”

A tree got struck by lightning. Matt’s ice cream started to melt. A patch of grass caved in.

“Fabulous!” she said as lightning hit the same tree again, “I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ll settle into bed, put on some white noise. But then, I’m just afraid to close my eyes. It’s not that I’m afraid of sleeping. I’m afraid of not being awake.”

Cleo’s bird hopped to Tess’s hand. It sang a melody that eventually became a Cranberries song. The park was gone, and they were in their college’s dining hall. It was 1994, but Matt was still balding. Cleo was totally present Cleo, but Tess was now wearing her favorite college hoodie.

“Really, guys?”

“I will picture you in that hoodie until the day you die,” Cleo said, “You wore it the day we met, and in every single picture I have of you. I can’t show friends that scrapbook, they want to know why I was friends with a homeless girl.”

Tess licked the bird which was now an ice cream cone again. She was the only one left with ice cream and she had two.

“I thought you two were a couple. The only gay people I knew were the Indigo Girls. But I asked if I could sit with you.”

“She wanted a threesome,” said Cleo.

“I hate you so much.”

“I love you forever, darling. Unlike Matt, you’re the only one I’d dream with.”

“Matt, Cleo, will it be okay?”

“It won’t,” said Cleo.

“And then it will,” said Matt.

“And then it won’t again,” said Cleo, “Just like it always is.”

The roof was gone, and the sun was rising.

“I guess that’s all I can ask for.”

Day 7: Test

After the test, I went straight home. Molly ran up and asked how I did, and I gave her a thumbs up, but we both knew that there was no way to know for sure. Nobody knows what they’re actually looking for on the test. Some questions don’t even have correct answers, and on the ones that do, there’s no way of knowing if the testers are actually looking for them. Maybe, only the stupidest of us pass. Maybe, they just want to most pliable on the World Ships.

“Listen, I’m exhausted. I’m going to go home, we’ll talk tomorrow.”

“Not going to join us for ice cream?”

“Exhausted.”

She rejoined the others. There were only eight of us in class, so she rejoined the other six. We all got along well enough. Not all exactly friends, but we felt like a unit. When Sarit was sick and fell behind in her work, we all fell behind, forgetting our completed assignments at home. In Phys Ed, we refused to engage in competitive sports. They could make us run, but they couldn’t make us race. We formed a single study group until this test when there was no material to study. Part of me wanted to go for ice cream, to pretend for a little while longer that we were in this together, but I couldn’t.

During the test, I couldn’t help but look at the others. The way Javier sped through the pages. How Max agonized over each question. Molly started from the last page and went towards the front, convinced that the hardest questions always came last, and should be dealt with when she felt the freshest. Was it possible for all of them to be chosen for the World Ship? Was it possible that none of them would?

“Our planet is dying,” said the General Secretary of the U.N. sharing the stage with the President and other prominent world leaders, “But we have a plan. Eight space ships, World Ships, to take us to the stars. To start anew.”

It was not a popular plan. Some people said that if we’d put the same money and effort behind saving the planet as we had fleeing it, the problems would be solved. That obviously, only the elites would end up on the ships. People argued over what made somebody elite, being the single most argued question of the past 20 years at least. I didn’t know if it were better to be on the ships or not. But I’d miss my unit either way.

Mom hugged me as soon as I came in the door. My dad looked at my face intently, as if the answer to whether I passed or failed had already been imprinted on my cheek. Neither of them would be leaving earth. Too old. Too unremarkable. No vital skills. They were keeping their wishes for me secret.

“I thought you’d go out with your friends,” Mom said.

“Tired. Up late. Going to nap.”

On the steps, I turned back, “I love you, both. You know that, right?”

When Jen woke me up, it was already dark out. She was tickling my foot, and saying, “Wake up, stupid,” over and over.

“Stop, you little brat.”

She’d be tested soon. What if we were split up? Would I be able to talk to anybody until the ships launched without wondering that?

“You know, you made Mom cry,” she said.

“I didn’t mean to.”

“I’m not going to cry.”

“Never?”

“Want to know why?”

“Yes.”

My sister considered. Only two years younger than me, I can’t say I actually remember life without her. She’d tag along behind me until the day she started running ahead of me. We’d watch the same shows, and even when our tastes changed, and we’d argue over what to watch, we’d still sit through the other’s pick. She was smart and stupid and the first one to laugh at a joke, and the last one to finish laughing. But, she could look at a page of scribbles and see a bunny nibbling a leaf. Maybe, she knew something.

She shook her head. “It’s dinner time. Mom ordered Indian food. I told her to make yours extra spicy! Let’s go.” And she ran from the room.

Day 6: Meditation

Lie down. Preferably some place comfortable. But that’s up to you. Beds are good, but some people prefer the floor. Couches aren’t great. Remember you’ll be there for a while. So, grass may seem good, but then a single blade tickles your ear or a ladybug crawls up your leg. A rarely used street late at night is risky, but satisfying.

Now close your eyes. Listen to my voice. It’s going to sound familiar. The mind shies from the unknown, so you’ll try to match it up with somebody you once knew. Your freshman year math teacher, who you once spotted on a date with the drama teacher. The server at a chain restaurant who waited on you every Thursday night for a month and then seemed to disappear. The voice you imagined that your friend’s dog spoke with. I might be any of them, probably all of them. My voice has been part of your life for longer than your own voice has. Set aside questions of if that is sinister or soothing until later.

Are you comfortable? Are your eyes closed? Have you set aside your questions? Good. I’m proud of you. So many don’t even make it this far. It’s time to go deeper.

Do you remember your first rain? Not the first time you saw it, or even felt it. But the first time you intentionally went outside in it. No raincoat or umbrella. No boots, not even shoes. It had been dry for weeks. Nobody really noticed at first. How many days without rain is normal, anyway? But over time, it was all anybody could talk about. You’d scan the skies for a dark cloud. Still, nobody noticed until the rain was finally upon you. Then, you were all outside.  Some people were dancing and kicking in the newly formed puddles. But you just stood still, feet planted in the mud, soaking it all up. That version of you, is the version we need now.

Do you feel the rain? Are you full of elements? Are you ready? Don’t answer that. You are ready. I know you are. Even if you don’t trust yourself, trust me. You can do this.

Exhale the breath you’ve been holding in. You don’t need it anymore. It’s just been holding you back. Now rise. Float towards the ceiling or the sky. It doesn’t matter, even if there’s an obstruction, you’ll go where you need to go. Just keep rising. Gravity does not hold you. It never did.

At this point, there are two paths, depending on what you’ve done so far. Did you remember to bring your body with you? Did you simply forget it on the bed, in the street, in the park (ignoring my warnings of ladybugs)? It will be tough on the person who finds you, but don’t feel bad, this was always your path. You are star dust now. Goodbye.

For the rest, rising into space, body and all, our journey has just begun. Follow me.

Day 5: Time

The exhibits at the Museum of the Changing Past change every day. Not all of them, but enough that we find it worthwhile to go a couple of times a week. Lindsey and I both have memberships (I campaigned pretty hard to get mine as a birthday present). You’re only allowed to one guest per week per membership, but Joel comes with us so often, nobody really enforces the rule. It’s cool, being regulars and stuff, and it’s not like I’d want to just spend an afternoon with Lindsey, the coolest girl in the world in the coolest place in the world without my best friend. I mean, what would Lindsey and I do, kiss? Haha, that’s so stupid.

Queen Diana’s coronation jewels. The spacesuit of the first dinosaur on the moon. Elastica’s third album. Things that were never supposed to be, but time travel had made them possible. And for a day, maybe a week, they appear here, catalogued and observed, part of our history before somebody else changes the timeline.

Sometimes, we just sit in the hall of presidents and watch the wax figures switch back and forth. Bush Gore Bush Gore on a continual blink. Eugene V. Debs appearing and disappearing across multiple spots. William Henry Harrison alone never changing.

“Oh my god, Lindsey, remember what happened in history today? Kirk got so busted,” Joel laughs before finishing the story. The two of them share a lot of the same classes, and the same lunch period. Lindsey once told me they never sit together at lunch, but Joel is always telling stories of what happened in the cafeteria.

“I’m going to check out the Rock Room,” Lindsey announces. The Rock Room changes slower than others, literally altering at a glacier’s pace, and when it does, it’s just to add a new rock. Nothing ever disappears from it. Diamond’s are forever after all.

I go with her. We look at emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Floofium, cat diamonds, and pop rocks.

“I love this place, but sometimes it’s too much. You know our parents lived with the past more or less stable. Yeah, they’d revisit ideas. Realize that heroes were actually villains, but the actions were the same, just new context. So, it’s nice to be in a room where Googlenium is always Googlenium.”

“Yeah.”

If I close my eyes, I can remember our first kiss in this room. I can remember walking in on Lindsey and Joel’s first kiss in this room. I can remember fighting so angrily, that none of us ever came back to the museum again. I can remember a security guard playing air guitar so hard, and all of us laughing, swearing we’d never forget it. The Rock Room is not stable. The earth is not stable. There is so much past, I can no longer imagine the future.

There are more rooms to see. A new wing has been added.

“Oh my god, Lindsey, remember what happened in history today? I got so busted.”

In the Photo-torium, none of us even recognize our own faces in a framed Polaroid on the wall.

Day 4: Robot

My sister, Emma, is building a robot. She says it will save the world.

Mom just wants her garage back.

“You said it would only be for an afternoon.”

Emma never said that. Mom made that assumption based on past experience. Like the time Emma started a band with Kelly and Kim. Or when Emma tried to learn how to juggle. But this is different. I could tell, but I’ve had more practice. I’ve been staring at Emma my entire life. When we were younger, it was to predict her moods. To know a moment before she did when the fun was over and she was going to insult me, and push me out of her room. Now, she was my guide, the senior to my freshman. She’s already everything I soon will be.

“I never said that.”

“Maybe, you can put your robot in the basement?”

“It’s not a robot, it’s a robotic flight suit, and once it’s finished, there will be no way to get it out of the basement.”

They have this discussion every night at dinner. Nobody has asked me about my history project. I got an A- (good!). Or my math test. C- (less good). I want to talk about the good grade, but not really the bad one, so I can’t bring it up.

“What if I wash the car this weekend?”

Mom considers. “Every weekend, until you’re done.”

“Deal.”

“And the dishes.”

“A deal was already struck.”

“I’ll do the dishes.”

They both look at me. I don’t know why I volunteered. Maybe, I wouldn’t do them. Mom could lecture me about responsibility. Standing in my door way, while I reluctantly took off my headphones, and looked at her, surly and bored. I’ve been working on my surly and bored. Mostly just when looking in the mirror. It’s not ready yet. After a few seconds, I break into my I-have-a-secret smile, the one that Emma says makes me look incredibly punchable.

After dinner, I do the dishes. Then I rush to the garage. Emma is working on the thrusters. She downloaded the schematics from the internet. Discusses improvements with other teens on discord. There’s a guy in China who destroyed a meteor heading towards Chengdu. Emma says she knows him. Well, he’s in the forum. Commented positively about her modifications.

“He didn’t even ask for a pic. Guys are always asking for a pic. It’s fucking bullshit patriarchy. Not taking pics. You want to take a pic, take a pic. But nobody should ask you for that. You know what I’m saying?”

I don’t.

I miss Kelly and Kim. When they were in a band, or when they were hanging out coming up with names for their band, they would let me hang out. Kind of like what I do now, but when Emma was on a rant, Kim would make silly faces at me. She always brought what she called, “Mexican Coke, with real cane sugar” and give me my own bottle. I was still in junior high, and when I think back, everything seems more innocent. Back then, meteor showers were just lights in the sky. Nobody thought about them being stones falling from the sky. Back then, my sister wasn’t planning how to launch herself into space.

“Hey dummy, did you ever finish that history project for Mr. Callahan?”

“I already got it back. A-.”

“Not bad, dummy. He’s a tough grader.”

“Yeah… are you really going to save the world?”

Emma stops what she’s doing. She stares at me like I’m volunteering to do the dishes.

“The world can burn. I’m saving you and mom.”

I don’t know what to say to that. Soon after, she turns up the music. Neither of us meets the other’s eyes for the rest of the night.

Day 3: Lava

“Rule number one, do not touch the lava. Lava is very, very hot, and you have waived your rights to sue. So, if you die, or have to get a replacement limb, that’s coming out of your pocket.”

Nobody was listening. They talking loudly over me, taking selfies. One couple was making out. That happens often, but usually at night. Part of the draw of disaster tourism is that people feel their own mortality, choose to seize life, and then fuck like bunnies. It’s subtly written into the ad copy, but not too subtly. Our clientele is wealthy, but not all that bright. Which is why I was reminding them that lava is hot. As I mentioned, there’s no legal necessity for me to do that, but there are only so many times you can watch a person dip their hand in hot lava before it wears on you. I’ve put in for a transfer to a flood. Leslie worked floods for a while. She says that everything gives you nightmares eventually, but agrees that a change is healthy. Unless, you start working plague. Plague sucks.

“Anyway, if you’ll look to your left, you’ll see death and destruction. To your right, also death and destruction.”

That briefly caught their attention, while they decided which side was the death and destruction with the best lighting (the right). At this point, the boat is literally floating on a river of lava. It took me close to two weeks, 3 tours a day before I accepted that this was safe (enough). The tourists seemed to have no such doubts.

I wonder what it’s like to simply not believe that you’re going to die. To have to travel across the globe simply to look death in the face. I’d always thought death was everywhere, but apparently, there were gated communities where she couldn’t sneak past security. Not on the guest list.

Leslie was working concessions when we returned to home base. She sold snacks, and magnets and t-shirts and condoms. People asked both of us if we’d hold their phones and take selfies of them. One guy hit on her, but Leslie doesn’t play with tourists.

Finally, we sent them back to their hotel, and we could close up. Leslie can do it herself, but if I help, she’ll buy us dinner with her tips. Most nights, that means dumplings from a food cart, but once in a while, she scores big, and we can afford a restaurant.

“We could just buy some groceries, save money.”

“This is my own little way of seizing life. Did I ever tell you about when I worked Giant Robot Attack?”

GRA is a plum assignment. Dangerous, because robots actually want to kill you. Floods and volcanoes just don’t care if they do. Most people who live through a two-week stint on GRA retire or get assigned to the home office. So, no, she hadn’t told me.

“It was fucked up. But I made enough for my mom’s operation. Not that it saved her life. Anyway, my mom hated dumplings. Anything dumpling like. Ravioli, empanadas, samosas. It was weird. Like what was she afraid of? The unknown, I guess. I mean, I watched a robot smash a skyscraper, and she was worried that a tiny pocket might have beef instead of chicken.”

“My mom is afraid of spiders.”

“Yeah, fuck spiders. I’m never going to work the spider pits.”

The dumplings had pork belly that night. Delicious.

Day 2: Sunflowers

It started with the sunflowers. Those giant compound eyes sprouting everywhere throughout the neighborhood. Their heads slowly turning to follow the sun, guided by an intelligence we can’t hope to understand. Alien, demonic, mystical.

My dad used to say, “Never trust a flower.”

My dad never actually said that. If you want to make up a truism, put it in the mouth of an elder.

But people liked them. They’re yellow, and I guess we like yellow. Then there were the bees. Also, yellow.

People said the bees were dying out, but there were so many bees, more than I’ve ever seen. I’m not saying the bees aren’t dying. Just that it’s hard to get around your own experiences. When I was younger, I wanted to be special. I wanted my life to be the exception. It hasn’t been. Except, now I see bees all the time.

My grandmother used to say, “Better to bee stung, than to bee shy.”

There were other plants. Flowering vines. They crept up the wooden fences between our yards. Rabbits nibbled on them. If you walked slowly, the rabbits would even let you pet them. Children learned how to be quiet so as to not scare them. They became gentle, the children and the bunnies. Maybe all of us.

We didn’t know how to feel about the changes. Some of us were angry that we were no longer so angry. We’d fume as we cut back the vines with shears. We’d chase children off our lawns, running in circles until we were all laughing. The birds would wake us with their singing, and we’d refill the feeders.

It was just for a little while longer. We were promised an ecological disaster. If we held on, surely everything would die. Our beloved concrete would be returned to us.

My great aunt used to say, “Nature is the only thing in the way of perfection.”

Lydia was the first one to invite a bear into her house. She was a school teacher or a children’s librarian. The point is, she was used to dealing with wild animals. Professionally. The bear slept on her living room floor. Sometimes, she’d throw a rug over it like a blanket. It liked that.

Others copied her. It was the accessory of the season. My own bear liked to sing. Not all the time, just when it thought I wasn’t listening. When I was in the shower, or asleep. But I started wearing headphones, connected to nothing, and pretended I couldn’t hear it. I harvested honey, and left it for the bear on the table.

I told myself this was all temporary. Lydia told me about a city where it had been raining for weeks.

“It’s all part of the end,” she said as we lazed in the grass, entwining our fingers together.

April 1, 2020 NaPoWriMo?

It’s been over 25 years since I last wrote a poem, and that might be for the best. But I like the idea of producing 30 single sitting pieces (Poems with Legs as my friend Gillian Devereux is calling them). Here is the today’s.

April 1st: The Rains

The first day of the rains, we cancelled our brunch plans. We brewed coffee at home and returned to bed. Talked about when we used to get Sunday papers and read tweets out loud. We were warm and dry, just as we’d been for most of our lives, and expected we’d continue to be. We made pasta pomodoro for dinner, and we had no regrets, we’d see our friends next weekend.

It wasn’t strange that it kept raining. Who wants a sunny Monday anyway? We talked about it on the subway, drawn together by shared adversity. Buckets, cats and dogs, men, hallelujah. We ordered in lunch at work, and tipped well, outsourcing our discomfort. We had one drink at the bar. The rain might stop. What if the difference between wet and dry was just one drink?

By Wednesday, some streets were flooded. Those of us who could, stayed home. The rest worked half days until the governor announced that people should stay home. People exited in an orderly fashion, but still one person drowned on Central Ave.

Then it was just Maggie and me. We played board games, we sang duets, we made a fort, dividing our small space into ever smaller spaces. We both cooked our specialties, hers learned from her mom, mine from a stint as a short order cook. We learned the dances from Grease, and Dirty Dancing. We read the pile of New Yorkers. We circled events in the Goings on About Town section that we’d go to if we lived in New York, if they hadn’t happened over a year ago, if there were still events.

At first, we’d look out the windows at the grey and the rain. Sometimes, we’d see people outside, wearing the traditional yellow raincoat. We’d wonder where they got the rubber hip boots that allowed them to brave the flooding streets. Did they just order them, or were they prepared, always waiting for this moment? Then the water became too deep. We didn’t see anyone for days. Then a single kayak. We turned ours gazes inside.

“There’s nobody I’d rather be marooned with than you,” I said.

“Not Brooke Shields? Not Tom Hanks? Not Ginger and/or Mary-Anne?”

“Not all the tea in China.”

“Not all the other fish in the sea?”

“You’re the only fish for me.”

She knit. I played video games. We slept together, but slowly grew out of sync. She fell asleep early while I read. Then I’d nap in the early afternoon. Sometimes, I’d awake and she’d be taking a bath. I’d knock, and she’d say wait a minute, but it was never a minute. The apartment always felt damp to me. There was a leak in the kitchen. Condensation formed on all the windows. My showers kept getting shorter, there was enough water in my life. But Maggie would soak in the cooling water.

I washed the dishes. I swept the floor. I fixed the wobbly leg on the coffee table. She soaked. I sang songs sitting with my back at the door. She soaked. I washed the towels. Kept them in the dryer so they’d be so warm and fluffy when she emerged. I fell asleep.

I awoke to an empty bathroom. An open window. The rain had stopped, but it was too late. There was only the sea.