The Fourth River

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Tributaries: “Land and Seek”

By on April 12, 2017

 By Sarah Van Bonn

 

 

“We think we’re getting slimmer, but really we’re losing our youth.”

Dee and I are lying on the sailboat: the part they call a “trampoline” but why? It’s as easy or hard to jump on as anything else. Dee means our faces get gaunter as the baby fat disintegrates.

She’d done a juice cleanse the week before. “No, no more carbs,” she slurred at the Italian restaurant. “You know wine has carbs,” I said. It had stormed so thoroughly the only traffic was pedestrian. We snowshoed over, hid inside, arranged in candlelight like some painting in the Louvre. The noise ratio of the city was impossibly reversed: internal clanging, outside hushed.

Now we’re here. This blue Crayola couldn’t come close to naming. I mean the blue of the sea, but the sky’s blue too. There’s a reason they share that trait. Something about reflection or refraction, what the eye can or can’t see.

We both have rashes from sun or saltwater. I scan the red bumps on our stomachs, thinking maybe face fat doesn’t melt away so much as migrate.

What else haven’t I been told?

Landsickness, for one. We “go to land,” as sailors say, and my body rejects the fixed firmament. It took just days to undo my life’s entire chain of earthbound moments. The world re-taught me: motion, always. Now its lack feels unnatural, so my body pretends, swaying to this sea rhythm I may someday feel again, but for all we know, may never.

A beachgoer says, “The human race won’t last millions of years. We’re only just a tiny blimp.”

Fruits of the sea, they’re called in other languages. Am I a fruit of the earth?

The shop-owner hears Dee question the price of canned goods and reminds me: You pay a premium because nothing is here. Everything must be brought.

But isn’t the world just a series of smaller and less small islands? I later think to ask.

We find a bar on a barge. Ha ha. The tradition is to drink “shot-skis” until blotto enough to jump off the top; it’s like a trampoline, but different. A regal prostitute perched on a barstool jiggles her bum to the music, the rest of her perfectly still.

Land. Sea. See?

The shop-owner said: It’s hard to grow up here, but why would you live anywhere else? The flamingos come and go to different parts of the island. They build nests. You see them from far away, or you don’t see them at all.

All is fruit, ripening then rotting.

I didn’t know what would happen to Dee in the end, but if you’d told me, what would I have done?

A barracuda hovered nearby, waiting because he didn’t know how not to, buoyed by the knowing unknown, a tiny blimp—imagine him from an aerial view: X marks the spot. See all the other spots? You can’t; they are infinite. You couldn’t know where he’d be, but there he was.

There he always is.

 

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Sarah Van Bonn is a world-wandering freelance writer based mainly in NYC when she is not on the road. She has so far authored one book (published June 2015 by Skyhorse Publishing) and many smaller pieces, with work in/on WNPR, the Rumpus, South Asia Journal, Proximity Magazine, and various elsewheres.