[ToC]

 

WATER WORLD

Amanda Zivkovic

 

1.

I just got to work. I drove here (by car, not boat). Being inside a car is odd. By the time you see where you're heading, you're already passing it all. A gas station becomes a school and a school becomes a strip mall and a strip mall is zip and it is all glazing over your eyeballs in seconds. It's like when you go to put on sunglasses but they are already on, or looking for the keys that are already in your hands. Sometimes things go so fast that it only seems slow. You catch a falling glass for twelve minutes. That's why people miss turns and smash into taillights and kill themselves behind the wheel. You think you're going so slow. You think about whatever, you think about it all. You think your head is moving so fast, all the time, but maybe it isn't. That's my hope, at least. I've told my dad that my head is fast. I can think about a lot of stuff for a long time, and quickly. He told me that he does too, but I should still wear a seatbelt.
     I drove by car to work since you're going to be in the car often. I almost forgot what it felt like. Wear your seatbelt.
     The water here is still chilly. I'm guessing that no one will come around the marina today. It's only May. There is no urgency in May. Summer will come. The river doesn't know it's coming, but we do. But there are things it knows better than either of us.
     It feels like so long since you left, but it hasn't been. I want you to hurry and stall for as long as you can.

 

2.

Every year, in the spring, the pavilion becomes infested and the marina never does anything about it because of the incident three years prior when fire ants invaded the pavilion. One or two ants are O.K. but this is not the nature of ants. Ants know nothing about moderation (you and I are similar to them in this way). Once the ant problem became a threat to children, the marina hired an exterminator. But by the time the guy showed up, all the ants had died mysteriously. Since then, I spend the entire summer in a cycle of forgetting and then remembering the infestations after getting stung or bit when all I wanted to do was make a damn burger on the grills. Last year, it was forgetfulness, a sting, and a cheeseburger. This year, so far, it's just wood bees. Wood bees, like people, are dumb and clumsy and common occupants of pavilions.
     My hands feel drunk all the time. I keep having this dream of you rowing slowly towards me. You ask me to flip your canoe, and I can't. Where are you on the road? Are you near water?

 

3.

I have read your letter three times since yesterday, when I received it. When you say that you miss me it makes me feel like I've gone missing but really it's only you. Don't feel bad, though. Also, I miss you too.
     The gift shop rabbit's foot is now on my keys. Thank you. You're sweet. I hope it brings me much luck even if neither of us believes in all that. Where are you in Tennessee? You forgot to mention. Are you eating and drinking well? Tennessee seems like too much land and not enough water.

 

4.

It is good to know you are drinking well. I keep your bottle caps in my pocket and pull them out when it is slow at work. My favorite is the "Shadow Dog" IPA cap. It smells the best, but also the color is strange to me: like the inside of another person's eyelids. Bring me back some if you have the money. Do you need money? I'm working a lot. You didn't tell me if you were eating well. Don't forget to do that.
     The sky looks tired all the time and it's almost June. This is what spring really looks like when you get your face out of an Easter card—an awkward, half awake earth that feels horny and rainy and gloomy and eager. There's no rain, though. Just constant threats of rain. It is always raining someplace in the world. We could visit those places one day.
     Today, I told three people that I love you.

 

5.

Dad and I went out on the boat today. I had off. Up on the fly-bridge, above the water, I'm not being pressed forward into the world. Time collapses in on itself. There is no anxiety over the horizon you can never reach. There is only awareness. It's not complete accuracy, no, but a type of clarity. This log is a log in water. This sun is a sun in the sky. Life is gradual. Blood isn't so thick. Being "sad" can be a feeling but it can also just be a word.
     Water moves through the air like it were being flicked off a thousand tiny fingertips. I hope some of them are yours.

 

6.

There is good news.
     Our darling daughter Annabelle is cancer-free.
     Yeah, so I got my neighbor's test results. I don't know why I opened them, I feel poorly about it. I don't know how I'll give them back, now. Maybe I won't. Why don't doctors call anymore? We should try to talk on the phone, soon. I know you're busy. Your voice is always around when I can't hear anything at all.

 

7.

When light flickers through branches, I always assume it's someone coming towards me. It almost never is.
     The rabbit's foot is gone, but I guess it has always been gone in a way. It's somewhere in the river along with everything else.
     When will I see you? Send more bottle caps but drink less.

 

8.

I took a friend out on my boat today, around the river and back. He's from work. He wanted to see how the boat runs. I like him, but he talks too much. Especially when on a fast moving boat.
    Have you eaten lunch yet?
    I keep telling him I don't eat lunch but he always forgets.
    I don't eat lunch.
    Why not?
   
I don't like talking when the boat is underway. It's difficult with all the noise but it's also just unnecessary. I like it. This understanding is present in only some people. It's present in you.
    Look out at all that water. It is everything held together by nothing. You're floating on it all. There is balance and buoyancy. There is sand and water. Horrific and beautiful dependency. Tell me you can feel all of that.

 

9.

My dad fell off the boat yesterday. We were turning around to get his hat that flew off the boat. We were in neutral, he was scooping his hat, when I knocked the throttle with my elbow. He's fine. He's more worried about me, actually. But I'm not even beating myself up over the whole thing. Honestly, I don't really feel bad about it. But I guess you're more fucked if you're not fucked up over fucking up.
     There's this crab boat anchored out today. The river is empty besides it and myself. That's what it feels like, at least. It rolls in the waves but it's always anchored in mud. It sits out, openly, but still away from me. Away from everything. Being alone like that doesn't make me sad anymore. I don't worry about eating out alone, or drinking alone, or waking up and still being sad. I worry about other stuff. Why did I buy a jumbo pack of saltine crackers? Where did I put my keys? What am I drinking tonight?
     I really miss you.

 

10.

I'm glad to hear you're coming back soon. It's time. I looked at a map of Michigan today and it looks boring. I don't think it's worth a visit, but I could be wrong. At least there is water there.
     I watched this show last night on the Science Channel about a trench off the coast of South Africa. This group of scientists went down in it. They found the normal stuff. Holographic fish with hockey puck eyes. Tube worms. What struck me about the show was this one scientist guy. A real geek, I guess. He was always breathing quickly. Always creeping around in the back during interviews. He kept making this weird joke.
    I wish we could just drain all this water for a day!
    This would be a lot easier if there wasn't all this water!
    
People love shit like that. Reaching the real bottom of the ocean, or camping on the top of Mount Everest or sending monkeys to mars. But an empty ocean?. There'd be fish flapping, drying out all over. Endless shores. Bones. Rocks. Could you even call it an ocean anymore? Sinkholes instead of blueness and greenness. Seeing straight down into the earth, and the core. The fire, the movement, the crackling. The dirt, the mud. It would be beautiful, momentarily. But really, an ocean without water is just dirt—its nothing. Who could ever really want to see all that, if they understood what it meant? You can't separate things like that. You need one for the other. Take the ocean from the ocean-floor and its water. Take the ocean-floor from the ocean and its mud.
     Also, here's a moth I found today. I didn't know anything could be so orange while also being dead.

 

11.

Remember the crabbing boat I told you about? The guy who owned it killed himself on it. That's why it was anchored out for so long. I didn't know the guy. He doesn't come around the marina.
     Not much is happening here. Everything is waiting for your arrival. I wish you'd write more. I taped the show I told you about since you seem so interested in it. Honestly, it gave me nightmares.

 

12.

I keep thinking about that crabbing boat. Not the guy, just the boat, sitting in open water. They pulled it in recently. I think of the anchor, swaying in the currents. I think of it hooked in the earth for days: something it was made to do. Something it needs to do. It's simple. I wish the boat could have stayed there, in the river, for the rest of eternity. Leave it alone. That's where he left it. It was where it was supposed to be.
     Everything is where it is, I guess. There's no changing it now. Dad always says, "It is what it is". I think my version makes more sense.
     Tomorrow, I won't see you. The wood bees will stay all summer. The things I've told you aren't always what have happened to me. This is what I have: a job, a boat, the water, and some wind. This is all I have. Yes, everything is where it is.

 

13.

I'm accepting a lot of things. I don't think you're coming back soon. I know it, and it's okay. I'm accepting that the river needs both water and dirt, but not all things are like this, including people.
     I am not a river.
     We are not a river.

 

14.

What if the world lost all its water? Think of the entire world without water. A dead place, a nothing place, but a place. A lucid dust. Dirt crumbling into the dirt, like Mars. It's possible.
      Think of the entire world without dirt. A water world. A sphere of tumbling water in space. An ethereal everything, a vivid blueness in the emptiness of the universe. It flows in the galaxy, licking light and quietly glowing on its own. When the sun gets hot, it boils and its moon changes the tides. When the sun dies, it freezes its tired currents until the next sun. What a place.

 

15.

Have you left the hotel? Is this address useless?
     I'm not mad at you, I just wish you'd write me. I don't ask for much. Write me because it's pointless. Write me because we don't need each other.

 

16.

Most people like riding boats, I think. You do, or did. But not many people like to anchor out. Things get quiet. It settles the boat, brings it acceptance.
     Anchors are tricky. Once casted, they are difficult to crank up. People get impatient with them, scared. People feel strange. I don't know, anchoring out isn't so bad. A boat needs an anchor and an anchor needs a boat, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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