Alors! Apologies for being late with this week’s Wednesday Write-In, chers. Life – including a storm complete with winds strong enough to almost bash the windows in, a power supply which saw fit to flicker on and off, and hail fit to batter holes in the roof – interposed. But, to my very great delight, everything is fine, and things can resume as normal today. We got away lightly compared with some of the rest of the country, which has seen extensive damage and widespread power outages. Winter storms, eh? Great fun.
Incidentally, this is my fiftieth Wednesday Write-In. Incroyable.
This week’s words were:
maple :: collection :: coarse :: husky :: cigar smoke
The Morning After
We’d driven to the beach to watch the sunrise, a collection of people too random to be friends, but joined by an inexplicable and unspoken bond. Someone, from somewhere, had stolen a cigar; smoke hung in the air inside the car like incense, and the heavy scent of it was making me feel sick.
A guy in the back was humming a song I loved, one about the Maple Leafs and ladies with lacy sleeves. I settled into it like a favourite shoe, my eyes sliding closed, wanting so desperately to sing along, out loud.
‘Hey,’ said Robin, suddenly. ‘There it is.’ His voice was husky – too much shouting and not enough sleep the night before. ‘The sun, guys. It’s comin’ up. Our first day as adults!’ He pulled himself up using the steering wheel, the bowtie on his rented tux coming askew.
‘Oh, gimme a break,’ moaned Stacey, curled up like a golden lullaby in the corner of the back seat, her head tucked under Brian’s arm. ‘It’s too early for this.’
‘Well, sadly, the sun has been rising early in the morning for a very long time, my dear,’ said Brian, stroking her arm. Whimpering softly, she folded herself further into him and he shifted, slightly, to make room for her. I looked right at him, but he didn’t see me.
‘Hey, I wonder what we’ll all be doing a year from now,’ said the guy in the far corner – the one who’d been singing, I thought. I didn’t know his name, though I was pretty sure we’d had art class together.
‘Time, I should think,’ quipped Brian. Stacey slapped him in that gentle way that only pretty girls can get away with, and he laughed.
‘Bri-bri! Don’t be coarse,’ she said. ‘I’m sure we’ll all be doing wonderful things. You and I’ll probably be in college. And you!’ She pointed at me. ‘Shirley? Sharon?’
‘Sasha,’ I said.
‘God, sorry. Sasha. Of course. Well, I mean, you’ll probably be working, right? In the shop, with your dad?’
‘My uncle.’ I cleared my throat. ‘My dad’s dead.’
I lowered my eyes against the barrage of pitying stares that washed over me, and wished I’d just kept my mouth shut. A long, empty moment passed, and the sun crept up the sky like ink bleeding into a piece of paper.
‘You do know we’re never going to have a truer moment than this one, right here,’ said the guy who’d been singing, his eyes distant. ‘We’re never going to be, like, between things the way we are now. Not ever again. This is it. The turning point of our whole lives.’
Nobody said anything. The car filled up with sharp, harsh light, the sort of light that makes dust motes look like tiny Tinkerbells, and makes eyes sting and shutter themselves away. Already, it felt warmer in here. Crowded. Full.
‘Hey. Maybe we’d better get back, yeah? People will be wondering where we took off to.’ Robin’s voice was soft. He started the engine without looking at anyone, and had already started to pull away from the cliff’s edge before we’d even started settling our uncomfortable, unfamiliar clothes around us, and sitting straight in our slept-in seats.
I took one look back as we drove away. The sunlight danced across the sea, and the sky was like the inside of a blue bell.
It was going to be another beautiful day.