Morning


Early morning.

A lake approximately oval in shape cascades in light. Gentle waves lap the Western shore, cresting and crawling up onto the beach and tanning the sand a dark brown; an older gentleman, Henry, sits in a chair in front of his house and gazes out at the water. Both he and his house sit atop a bluff overlooking the nearby beach, and surrounding the house is a sparse, tall forest whose canopy blooms a bright summer green. When a breeze picks up, which is often enough, the air fills with the scent of fresh water and becomes chilly.

Henry turns on a nearby radio. A clear male voice comes to life.

“Yesterday in London, police seized a car…”

Looking across the lake, there is a dark green sliver: trees line the horizon; and interspersed amongst them are spaces with white dots–the faint, fuzzy outlines of other houses. Henry eats a handful of sunflower seeds, taking them out of a jar sitting on the grass. The jar is half full: the rest of the seeds having been reduced to wet shells, which litter the ground next to Henry’s chair.

Chewing loudly, mashing his teeth, one hand perched on the armrest to take the shells out–he licks his lips and wipes his mouth on his tan arm. Spit follows his mouth down his forearm and onto his wrist, leaving a trail of smeared hair. Craning his neck, he stretches backwards until he is looking straight up into the morning sky. His upper lip quivers, then his left eye. He keeps chewing.

“Police have yet to find those responsible for the London bombings, and have yet to release any new information. There are, however, reliable reports that the type of material in both bombings was the same. This is unconfirmed…”

Henry clears his throat and shifts in his chair, then reaches for the jar of sunflower seeds. Behind him a white cat rubs against the corner of his house and starts digging frantically in the ground, its paws churning the dirt. He coughs hoarsely; a sunflower seed flies from his mouth. A minute passes. The cat bounds across the yard and sits down on the front step. Henry cranes his neck and looks over his shoulder, then gets up and walks inside.

Inside his bedroom, he is kneeling in his closet and digging for something. The bedroom window, which faces the front of the house, lets in the morning light, which is then diffused through the drapes into a hazy green. Dust drifts silently in the sunbeams. Henry stands up with some difficulty, then sighs and leaves the room. He returns minutes later with a large cardboard box, which he sets down on the bed and begins to rummage through. After a few minutes of sorting through various papers, he finds something; his eyelids peel back and the corners of his mouth turn up in smile; his nostrils flare, he raises his eyebrows, and he involuntarily tugs at the buttons of his shirt.

London, July 30th, 1956

Dear Henry,

I miss you, and can’t wait for you to come visit us in London! We’re going to be there through the 28th (or so my dad tells me). In any case, make sure you bring the suitcase I left at your house. Actually you should bring both your green one and my red one–I’ve collected some things here that I need to bring back! I have a surprise for you too! I’m sure it will make the whole trip worth it–it is just that good! I really miss you, and I love you. I love you! I’ll see you soon!

Love,
Nicole

In his bedroom, the dust swirls in the sunlight, having been caught by an errant breeze. Henry sits on the bed, the letter in his lap; he gazes at it for perhaps a full minute without reading it, then looks up, his eyes following a fleck of dust spiraling up towards the ceiling. The house creaks. Setting the letter aside on his bed, he scratches an arm, then goes back to rummaging through the box. He continues looking at old letters, newspapers, and photographs for perhaps the better part of an hour, the green haze busily brightening as the sun climbs. Afterwards he sits on the edge of his bed, hands resting on his knees.

Late morning.

The lake has stopped shimmering and now small waves are cresting green and brown; white froth marks the outline of every disturbance. A sustained wind has picked up, rustling and creaking the trees as their wood bends. Beneath the bluff, a few neighborhood kids play on the beach . A small child stands in perhaps a foot of water and is looking out towards the middle of the lake. Another one stands hands-on-hips further up the beach. The sky is a blue diluted into a foggy white, and the sun, high above, is beginning to shine fiercely, baking the sand–the hands-on-hips boy must shift feet in order to stand still. Henry sits in his chair. The radio is blaring, and he is chewing handfuls of sunflower seeds.

The morning ends.

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