My mother can’t be bothered to go outside – Dad is asking her to come out, out of the house.
“Come and see this sunset,” he says. It’s the brightest and most vibrant sunset he has ever seen, he says. It’s falling perfectly behind the tallest peak of Pilchuck, across the valley from the Dutch Hill house.
I’m seated at the dining table. I lean back in my chair to view through the window and see it, the violent tangerine hue, and how quickly the sun falls. I can almost hear its thundering roar out of the sky and behind the mountain.
“Ah,” he says to mother, glancing behind him out the window. “Too late.”
Mother drains the pasta.
“Dad!” I shout, and dart out of my chair and swing open the screen door. My feet pound like stones on the wood of the deck.
Night has come and it has come fast.
There isn’t any moonlight to tamper with the stars. The stars aren’t only stars, they are honeycombs hanging in the sky, they are three dimensional, they hover within the atmosphere. Their hexagonal auras pulse outward from their crucibles like sand on drum skin.
In the yard below, there are animals. Their forms are hidden in the dark but their gazes are illuminated by the sky we look up at together. Dad has followed me. He regards the creatures carefully.
We watch the white dust and geometric shine of the stars, but soon, from behind the Dutch Hill house, clouds come. They usher blue skies behind them and push out the night.
“Aww,” I lament, plopping my chin into my palm. “It’s morning already.”
Katey has been wanting to take us to a beach. It’s along sand dunes, in the desert – it’s hot there, and far. Mother doesn’t want to go, her feet swell, doesn’t Katey remember this? How could she forget?
Katey says she’s gotten a babysitter. We don’t ask where her husband is. Dad listens to mother complain about the trip, but he says nothing. It’s a holiday soon, I mention. Lake Day is on Thursday, everyone will be at the sand dune desert beach, what was Katey thinking? How will we find parking?
Without missing a moment, we’re at the sea and Katey is in the dune grass putting lotion on her knees.
The tide is adjusting. The stormy black waters carrying tangled seaweed and driftwood begin their rush downward against the shoreline and outward into the expanse, and taking its place is a shallow water of cyan blue, tropical almost, and I run into it up to my knees. Splash. Plumes of water. Sinking sand. Splash. I think of milk and honey, of holy places and the names of G-d.
I put one foot in the blue water and the other in the black. The waters are separated by a thick line of sea foam. I straddle over them, feet buried in the sand, and hold fast against the opposite tide pulls of each and laugh.
Dad is watching me nervously from the beach. He wants me to be careful, I know. But I’m older now, strong. I can even swim a little.
“Maybe it will help,” dad says. He is looking at his legs. He feels he is old, I realize.
Dad is cautious. He enters the ocean like a ballet dancer but only lets the waters reach halfway up his shin before he turns around before he returns to the beach. I think maybe he doesn’t want to get better. I think, maybe, he’s afraid to know if he can.
Mother is on the rocks. She doesn’t look at me, or Katey in the dune grass. She just looks at Dad, worried. She is lost.