His first Volkswagen was very beachy, its paint job faded blue almost to white, the interior stripped to bones. We had sex in the middle of the night in the fallow lot between ranch houses. I was always underneath on the weedy ground. I dated a physicist who smoked marijuana to trudge through weeks of programming about subatomic particles. There is no alternative medicine. There are only things that work, and things that don’t work. I have broken two pairs of beautiful reading glasses in the past three months. A city office mails me brochures on how to turn off the gas for when the Big One happens, although I cannot follow the written directions. Musicians’ brains are wired differently from others’. A friend of mine didn’t learn her multiplication tables until she was seventeen. Crows remember people who have cheated them out of a reward, and they avoid them. Another friend came home from work and all his girlfriend’s things were gone. My friend who is blind sees not darkness, but vivid colors and shapes. Over a million Earths would fit inside the sun. In Hawaii I stood on the shore and saw the curve of the planet along the stretch of ocean to Japan.
Your first year anniversary is supposed to be paper. It is not precious as perhaps it was when paper, tin, china, iron were amulets to mark years you lived with someone. Why is the first year paper when it is the year when you have no money, only change and food stamps. You lie in bed together, no clothes, through long California rains. You go out at four o’clock twilight, jog down the road and back. You are careless and pregnant and the clinic lot is crowded. You park two blocks away, you plod to the door hearing screaming. “Think of her little face–we’ll show you her precious mouth, ears, eyelids—she wants to call you Mama!” What should we do now, he says after, and you say, Something normal. Let’s get a Sunday Times. Sit in the park and read how lucky we are, we have clothes, we have paved roads. You press your nose into his jacket.
Susan Nordmark’s short fiction and essays have appeared in Long Island Literary Journal, Sin Fronteras: Writers Without Borders, Entropy, Peacock Journal,Draft: The Journal of Process, Porter Gulch Review,Roar Feminist, and elsewhere. She studied at UC Santa Cruz and Harvard and lives in Oakland, California.