Friday, August 7, 2009

Olive and Sea Nathan

Sea Nathan buttons his thick brown pants. He and Olive collect their belongings and shuffle down the road. They are clearly out of place, urchins removed from the sea. He turns to her and says, "I dreamed about the nymphs again, luring me." "They're luring you to death," she says, "if you know the story." "Ah, but it's so pleasant to die," he says, "no eating, shitting, fucking -- well, sometimes a fuck if there's a corpsefucker out there." "You're as good as dead anyhows," she says, "like when Granny was dying and saw you with all our dead relatives 'round her." "I ain't got but one time to say this … ain't got but one time … " and that was it from Sea Nathan. They walk and take turns holding their heavy sack. The sun burns up the clouds. It beats on their hatless heads so hard that it bores through their eyes and penetrates the ground they stare at, dust and rock. "We'll keep walking 'til the shipyard," Olive says, but Sea Nathan's silence continues unabated. Night falls. Their scorched faces turn towards each other. "Well, guess we can't keep going through the night," Olive says, "'cause we'll get fooled by the darkness, you know, and miss the road to the yard. We'll be later than ever. Yeah, good luck so far gettin' there early enough not to get our heads chopped … " They walk towards a tree with apples underneath it. (There isn't fruit on the tree, so Olive isn't sure from where the apples originated.) Olive says, "Eat me here some of this fruit," and picks up a shriveled apple. Sea Nathan lies down and sleeps. After a while Olive, worried he's dead, shakes his shoulder. "I'm not dead," he says and falls back asleep. He hears her ask him in a dim, faraway voice, "What's wrong with you?" He forces himself to sleep until the sun begins to heat him. "Okay," he says. They pick up on the road where they left off and fill the remaining space in their sack with the desiccated fruit.

Copyright, 2009, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved