What we are doing, up in the air, is parasailing. Lake Tahoe in June, so Eden it’s brutal. The sky, a blue blind, shading nothing.
Wind heaves us heavenward. Wind crazed in our hair and wound down our throats.
Sean, she says. She’s looking out. God, she says.
This is a woman who will lick the backs of your knees and then say thank you.
We are five hundred feet above the blue belt of the water, unhitching the land from the land.
The sun is not brutal. The sun is a hot chip. The sun has turned her body copper. It’s a steely ache on my legs, like something you win.
Look at this sky, she says. She’s holding onto the straps of her harness like the ropes on a swing. I’m doing it too.
From below, we are a carnival tent in the sky. We are all tightrope walkers and upside down frowns and candy candy candy. Who gave you that glowstick? is something I could cry. My mouth is dry. My mouth is always this after flight: an arid valve, spitless. Flight: on an airplane, I mean. It means swallow means want.
From above, the water beats calm like an infant heart, solar liquid gold surfing on some cipheric lucid dream. They say that blood is thicker, but also that a fish out of water. You know. Look at the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. Look at the Kokanee Salmon. Look at the Mackinaw. We can’t see them from up here. But they’re in there, alright.
My God, she says. This place.
Sometimes, all I can think is, too much. Too much. I don’t know about this harness. I don’t know physics. Statistics are one thing.
Last night, I made her fried fish. It’s the one-two-three that’s nice: The egg to bind, then the crumbs, then the hiss.
Sugar pines coast by on our right; the lake is crushed velvet gemmed with sun, an afghan fanned across a bed. But it’s deep, the lake bed, who knows how deep the water is, and her hair whips out behind her.
We sail, up here, at the boat’s speed below us. A latched tandem: where’er she goes we’ll follow. A mountain chickadee sounds his three-note whistle. I look for our shadow, but I don’t see it.
In the apartment, before this distant shore, there was a fight. The milk was spilled, and then some. There were words. Feelings. Spit. Spit stuck in our words’ heads and tails.
We couldn’t tell heads from tails. I should say, I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t tell you what happened. It happens. Not all the time, but times. Time was, she’d sing me to sleep. Crooning in our coverlets, pink lipped blues. She was my talisman for morning.
Time gets away from you here. The jet lag, but not just. Yesterday, I made a braid in her hair, for the first time.
There are things, a few, that bind us. Up here: a harness and above the harness, a billowed balloon. Back there: There’s an apartment. A bank account. There are two gold rings and a good knife set. There were the tickets to the Pacific and matte photographs to come. There are four night table legs we sprayed copper. A farm share: Eggs, a yellow inside like nothing.
There was the chipped cup. There was the blood on my lip.
This stippled forest, this gliding flight, this festival of lights. Her elbow kissing mine between the straps. If it’s all over in fifteen minutes, why should I care. This fist in my chest. This lint in my lungs, this knot between my eyes: it’s tick ticking.
Sean, she says. Sweetheart. Drops needle my legs: a sun shower. From the boat, they start reeling us in.
This morning? she says. She stops. The glossed water looms. We are, she starts again. We’re going to. I’m.
What, I say. What is it.
She lays her hand on her stomach. Her head cocks soft towards her shoulder; the face I love, it blooms.
I open my mouth. I swallow.
Samantha Turk is the Assistant Fiction Editor of No Tokens, a journal of literature and art. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, and hangs her hat in Upper Manhattan. Her work is forthcoming in Madcap Review.
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