Sophie Rosenblum

Driftwood

There’s no rea­son to call each oth­er Tic and Tac, but we do just to keep up with that kind of child­hood bond, the one formed acci­dent­ly because par­ents put us togeth­er in rooms and in cars, bound into seat­belts and bunk beds. You’re almost always wil­ing to share your caramels, sticky in the white bag, sea air melt­ing them wet. I say, “It sucks that dad’s a fag­got,” and you say noth­ing.

I think, it’s dif­fer­ent being the man with the gay father, and then I feel pro­tec­tive like a moth­er hip­po with her calf. I want to swad­dle you up from oth­er peo­ple, the ones who have point­ed at us and brought us reach­ing for drift­wood to surf back out away from shore. You’re mea­ger with graces, but today you say thanks, and real­ly, I’m flat­tered

Sky Rats and High-Rises

These days, us out and out pigeon-haters were in real decline. No longer could you shoo away crowds of birds on bench­es or fire a few cap gun rounds to make your point. There were squads of angry twen­ty-some­things chant­i­ng at all of us pedes­tri­ans to recruit more morals for our bull­shit ethics. They wore quilts stitched with phras­es like, “Fine Feathered Friends” and needle­point images of what were clear­ly meant to be us Upper East Side reg­u­lars draped in coats of grey-black feath­ers. One of the pro­tes­tors even wore a macramé pigeon mask on her head, the hon­ey-brown eye made of some kind of blown glass, big as an orange. I saw that thing in shad­ows before I shut my eyes at night. “You’re scar­ing the chil­dren,” nan­nies called out, pulling tod­dlers across Lexington and back to the safe­ty of oth­er streets, but they didn’t stop, and for months it went on like this. They put oth­er birds in cages, promis­ing to torch finch­es and flamin­gos if we didn’t let pigeons alone. Then the may­or got involved, and there were press con­fer­ences, most of them held in front of my build­ing. I looked down when I saw a flash, and left seeds on the sill and the win­dow open, hop­ing for mer­cy from what vis­i­tors I had left.

Crossing

We’d count to six and then toss what­ev­er we had off the bridge, look­ing to ding a paint job in the crowds of cars beneath us. Mostly it was pock­et stuff, a cou­ple of coins, a match­book, pairs of plas­tic army men. We notched our wins in the rail­ing, dig­ging lines in wood for roofs we’d hit.

My moth­er dressed me Friday. It wasn’t clothes to throw in. The but­ton-down made my arms go tight, and I didn’t think I’d get dis­tance.

Use this,” and it was a rock. Sturdy and gray, gen­tle as any coin.

After I’d thrown, the per­spi­ra­tion didn’t come from laugh­ter. We didn’t crouch by the trees shout­ing, “Asshole!” over and over, mock­ing what we imag­ined the dri­vers were say­ing below. Instead, we were still, the noise of a car-wreck fresh in our ears. Black doors bent, arms and legs peek­ing out win­dows like a dish of picked-over shrimp.

 

Out We Go Beachside

I dis­like the bud­dy sys­tem, but here we are, two-by-two at the beach. A turtle is on-hand to give direc­tions, and I watch while you swim out in the ocean, far with gump­tion, no hint of count­ing time. There are cliffs in the back­ground; it’s a post­card view, real­ly, and if I let myself, I can enjoy the water a lit­tle, in up to my knees, as long as we’re not both swim­ming. I think, what if you were to drown, the ocean no longer your neck­line? You immersed, regained by water. Would I call for help? Swim out to find you? My intu­ition says I’d watch, curi­ous about the num­bers, how long it would take for that hand to sink, your body relaxed, loose below the waves.

~

Sophie Rosenblum’s work has appeared or is forth­com­ing in American Short FictionNew LettersThe Iowa Review, and else­where. She is cur­rent­ly fin­ish­ing her first nov­el, which was recent­ly a final­ist in the James Jones Novel Contest. You can find links to more of her work here: www.sophierosenblum.com.