I lie back on the sand and let the tide come.
It’s been months since they left. They said they would be back. They promised. They told me that it was just going to be for a little while and then they’d text or call.
A wave takes my phone, and I see the screen light up one last time, a silent scream into the oblivion of foam. Little sandbugs burrow by my fingers. Another rush bears me up and carries me into the surf.
They won’t have to worry anymore. I’m home now, submerged, and I go under.
The butterflies sit in his hair, the field around him a sea stretching into infinity in either direction. He hasn’t moved in hours, and the only passing motion is the opening and closing of wings, the silent ripples that the breeze creates in the lush grass.
He can feel his partner’s approach even before he comes into view, a dark figure that parts the tide with his gait. When he kneels in front of him, he takes one of the fragile things on a finger, and it flees to the wind.
The meditation is over, but the break is welcome.
The owl sees everything.
It watches when the young man brings his son into the barn on his shoulders, introduces him to each animal by name.
It regards the expression on the boy’s face when he gets old enough to come in here and hide from the other children who don’t understand why he’s so quiet.
It turns its head as the adolescent counts how many times he strokes the horse’s bare back.
Its unblinking eyes take in the vacant expression of the silent man when he comes into the stable and falls to his knees sobbing.
The owl knows.
“I’m trying to decide if I want to kill you tonight.”
“Oh yeah?” John asked, sipping his Merlot, licking his lips to keep them from staining purple. “How would you do it?”
“Maybe a blow to the head–”
“This isn’t the movies, Paula. You’d need something more than that.”
Her blue eyes froze on him, juices pooling under her rare steak. “You didn’t let me finish. That would be to disorient you. Then I’d strangle you.”
“With your hands…?”
If that wasn’t an invitation, he didn’t know what was. “I’ll get the check then,” he finally declared.
Each cupcake required an hour of work to decorate. While other bakeries made slapdash, hurried attempts to get their confections presentable and on the shelves for sale, these were works of art. Gold flakes sat perfectly atop white chocolate pools, while candied cherries created the perfect centerpiece for a buttercream basin. Doilies provided the delicate stenciling for powdered sugar snowflakes atop dark chocolate peaks.
When the bakery was robbed, the safe sat untouched, and the only damage was to the locks on the glasses cases. The owners could only forgive the bandits. Wherever they were, they must have been happy.
She had gone to the store to pick out a gift for a baby shower, and when she returned home, the house was in flames. She couldn’t tear her eyes away, the smoke rolling around her flip-flopped feet, the fire casting orange light against the yoga pants she was only going to wear out that one time.
She got back into the car and took stock of her belongings: her wallet. A tube of chapstick. Her keys. A scratchpad. A pen. A soft teddy bear, which she buckled into the passenger seat.
“Okay,” she said as she started driving again.