We meet in the diner where we had our first date,
and he fills me in on the last five years.
It’s all about replacing bad addictions with better ones.
Did I know he’s gotten into music? Plays bass guitar, sings too.
He really loves it. His parents say hi, by the way.
And he wants this conversation to be honest.
Am I dating someone? Good, he’s glad to hear that.
He’s so happy to see me.
I ask him about that time, a week after we broke up,
when I saw him making out with Jenna Lee
on the sidewalk in front of my house
even though neither of them lived near me,
and why did he do that?
I guess to hurt you, he says.
See, he went to rehab earlier this year
and this really smart old dude explained
that everything boils down to just two things:
Fear and love.
So I guess I’m a fucking coward!
He takes a swig of Coca Cola. Sorry if I’m being glib.
Jesus, this is hard. I wish I had a drink or something.
But hey, you know I loved you—
And when he talks about love
it’s the same way he talks about shooting up for the first time.
That crisp March day. His sunlit bedroom. Nothing
on his mind but the clean-cut edges of the universe.
I hope you know I loved you
Jesus, I loved you so much
The house where my mother grew up was swallowed by the sea. She said no matter. She hated that house. This was how it was meant to be, with salt water lapping at the porch steps and growing strange-patterned mold on the walls. Salt water sliding into the kitchen. Salt water licking bare the bones of the house. The house was built in 1962 by a man who beat his wife and daughter until the daughter ran away. The man died and his wife sold the house. She used this money to buy land far from the shore and spent her days there in silence. One day the daughter came back to the house and stood there. The lawn looked nice. A small red flag stuck into one corner of the grass warned her of pesticides. She saw a woman watching her through the window, spoon balanced in her hand. The sea began to rise soon thereafter although no one would notice for a few years. The new family’s son, wiry and spirited, splashed ecstatic in the ocean. Charts showed precipitous rises in precipitation. A hurricane hit and blew the shutters off the house. A tree pitched onto the roof. The grandmother, who had been living in the top floor, was killed. Electric wires littered the street for days. News channels called the scene post-apocalyptic. Environmental scholars referenced the sublime. People from up north with their summer homes flooded the real estate market, afraid of losing their long-term investments. My mother too moved inland. Prices dropped. Restaurants closed. Gulls circled, mourning the sand. The family, unable to recover, also put their house on the market. They sold it for a pittance. The dolphins stopped swimming near the shore. They must have moved into deeper waters. No one really knew. But plenty remembered spotting sleek grey bodies through the waves—so close to the swimmers — and how it was so much like seeing a secret.
-Sophia Rosenfeld, class of 2015