I guess it just seemed rude, leaving her outside.
Huh. You definitely saw it, too?
Yup. Like the moon was shining…
Hm. She sits on the couch. After a minute she mutters something.
Just something that happened a long time ago.
I inspect the window. Paint is chipped where it should be. No strange light. We both sit in silence.
I shrug. Like everything else, the dehumidifier chose last month to die.
It almost smells like a marsh. She looks into the next room, then sits on the couch again. A minute later she looks at me sidelong. Great, something else to deal with.
I march over and stand in the doorway.
Then my ass is cold and wet on the carpet.
What’s it doing in the basement of your house?
Laying on my shoulder I look and look and look:
Even the clouds are exactly where I remember them. The water smells ripe and salty—relaxing. I reach into the next room: the sand is yellow, mixed with dark, sharp bits of seaweed. I cup a handful and pour it over her palm. It falls right to the floor.
We lock eyes silently.
We watch the clouds, akimbo to the moon. In the distance people are gathered on land. Some of them are swimming. A woman on a far bank is heaving, sobbing. I try giving Jenna some sand twice more.
I give her my hand. I step into the bank, she steps forward… and stands on the floor.
I have an idea, she says. Want to try something… crazy?
I surprise myself with how deep I laugh. Why stop here?
We look out at the women passing between circles of men, at the dark water and dark leaves of ocean plants, at the streams of water and the slower stream of people. And Jenna Miller, who might have been my elementary art teacher, lights my joint. She inhales slowly, passes it. We curl the smoke toward the moon.
The joint goes dark. I relight it. We stand in the doorway for half an hour.
She laughs. At Fiske?
Yeah, I cough. It was an invitation, I think. I think my best friend and I mailed it to you from a dream. My brother broke in to get it at midnight. …not so weird now, huh?
Did you find it?
Oh yeah. It was there.
I wish you’d said something. I try to encourage that kind of thinking in my students.
I shake my head. Awkward. It was only visible at night, on a full moon.
You never know. She coughs lightly. I might’ve been willing to get it for you.
I have to let that sink in. You’re telling me all these years I had an ally? Among the grown-ups? Really?
Whole worlds open when you ask. Take your brother and me.
What does that mean?
She stares at the moon. Story for another time.
I take a few deep breaths.
Jenna takes a few deep breaths. We look at each other. She laughs.
Why stop here?