Fugacious

The sailboat dipped and rose as the wave moved surrounded it, kissing the underbelly of our vessel as it passed. I took it as a good sign that all of the day’s waves seemed to be well-wishers, and that I hadn’t felt the urge to lean over the railing and reproduce the remnants of our nautical picnic. The sun sat low in the sky and the boat seemed to drift, like an old horse on a well-worn path, toward the high cliff on the other side of the bay of Cassis. I sat at the stern, one arm thrown over the railing, taking in slow deep breaths to make the sea air last longer, to let it settle into my diaphragm and to tickle my alveoli before it had the chance to reconsider moving in. I wanted to stay on the sea forever, to let the sea rock me into my wildest dreams, to wait and rest and write rocked by the waves that would wish me well, without fail.

We drew up to the cliff and to the nude beach in its shadow, as we had for the last few months of Sundays, and someone put down the anchor.  Someone else went down into the hull and hauled up bottles of wine and plastic containers of rice salad and long baguettes of crusty bread. I laid out the silverware fit for a seafaring Frenchman and set out the plastic plates, folding linen napkins into the center of each place setting. We smiled at each other as we huddled around the table in the sailboat’s bay, exhausted after a day adrift on the water. My skin crawled with sea salt and sunshine, and I shivered as the wind tested the give on the anchor’s tether. I was happy and I was home, and I held the fugacious feeling close.

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Gazette

Paul rolled the newspaper tight and whacked the thick roll of paper against his thigh, almost absentmindedly, almost as though the impact would spur his mind. He went back into the house and spread the paper on the countertop. The microwave was still humming as it warmed two bowls of oatmeal; the coffee maker spat and hissed as it percolated what Paul suspected would really get his mind going. Paul rummaged through the silverware drawer and found a couple of spoons, got the orange juice from the fridge and glass from the cabinet above the kitchen sink.

He pulled pill bottles down from the shelf over the stove and retrieved the pill organizer–broad and wide and heavy–from the back of the other counter. Each tiny lid popped up easily and the little bins in the organizer gaped up at him little baby birds awaiting breakfast. He lined up the pill bottles, unscrewed their lids, and then, almost without having to think about it, sorted the colorful pastilles into their daily distribution boxes. Still, something forgotten taunted him.

The microwave beeped; the coffee maker clicked off.

“Mother!” Paul called, clicking closed the pill organizer with one application of his broad hand’s pressure across seven little lids.

“Good morning,” she said, a little too brightly, as she came around the corner into the kitchen. She looked at him as though she knew she was supposed to recognize him, and he smiled at her, knowing she probably never would.

His thigh throbbed distinctly from the place against which he had slapped the gazette. The signal was transmitted directly to his brain: his keys! Not lost! Not mindlessly misplaced! Not forgetfully set aside as a sign of early-onset dementia. Simply in his jeans pocket, simply waiting for something to remind him.