From the story Angelfish

As in:

After I kiss my sisters goodnight I go upstairs and search my old room, for about the 900th time, looking for the missing eyepiece to the microscope. I still can’t find it.

I remove the tacks that hold Alaska’s stars to the ceiling and use the flag as a blanket. In the dream I’m soon having Beth is lecturing a small group of stick-bearing, Masai tribesmen on a plain in Tanzania, explaining baseball to them, and showing them how to throw a forkball without hurting their wrists. They do not understand. She hands one of them a catcher’s mitt, and begins again.

My dreams ramble on from there and somewhere deep into the morning I’m excited that I’ve learned to capture the aurora borealis in a mayonnaise jar, as if the pulsing magnetosphere were a cloud of fireflies.

That’s when I’m awakened by Leslie’s hand on my shoulder, shaking me vigorously.

“She’s gone,” says Leslie.

She is also bleeding from her foot, and we can see this from tracks that lead up from the basement and out the back door to where my car had been parked for the night.

Within minutes we are squinting into the morning sun as Leslie drives her pickup east at a speed that strongly suggests she knows where she’s headed. After a couple minutes, she pulls the truck off the pavement onto a gravel road running parallel to a canyon. We throw up a cloud of dust moving north and then we bank to the west. From a small rise, I see my car a half mile ahead alongside the road, the door open on the driver’s side.

We walk briskly along a cattle path ominously flecked with Marjorie’s blood. We skirt an outcropping of basalt and then we can see her, thigh-deep in the river. She does not respond to our calls, nor does she look our way as we wade out toward her in water so cold that it quickly numbs our legs.

Cradled in Marjorie’s left arm is a large, cardboard cylinder, stripped long ago of its Quacker Oats label. She reaches into it with her right hand and then flings it outward in an arc.

She is broadcasting fish food. When we reach her we feel her shivering and see that she is crying. She empties the container in one final sweep, the golden dust falling in a smooth crescent upon the dark water.

“I think it is wonderful,” she says. “How the fish can swim in our tears.”

the end

Return to the start of this story, Icing.

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