• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 07

Ancient History

My mother feeds me scraps of stories from her first honeymoon like sliced meats. The saltiness of the sea water in her mouth, the flesh of the hotelier’s jowls quivering at the reception.

I ask her about the sandals on her feet, the way the dress was tied at the back of her neck. Double knot? Bow? I want her to describe in detail the jasmine in the air, the light falling on polished tile. The face of the child who took her bags to her room. The moment he turned and she noticed his lashes, the way they grew so thickly that it looked as if he had applied little-boy mascara. The trinket she bought from a street vendor. The bonfire on the beach at night.

Under the smoke, there is a man, I know, with hands wrapped around her ankles. I do not ask about this first husband, but insist, again and again, that she tells me of the time on that trip that she buried someone up to his neck in the sand. Stop there, I hold up my hand every time she gets to the moment when the tide begins to rise. I savor the pause, lick my lips, feel the little tongues of water creep, creep.