Jesse Jarnow

the island, no. 2

(Short fiction in even shorter increments.)

The Island: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11

When we got to really drinking that Wednesday, we talked about the island. I was sure it had been there. Andy Byers got so drunk that he began the night believing it imaginary (“sailors have a name for that illusion,” he’d said, pulling foam from his moustache), was argued into thinking it real, and — by closing — again denied its existence.

“Yes,” Elizabeth told me many years later, the summer we decided I was moving out. “I remember that feeling, too. I could never explain it. It was like a light that was on and off at the same time.”

“Frost’s coming soon,” Andy said on the way home, when we stopped on the empty lot across from the gas station on Baker Street. The water was visible through the mostly bare trees, small dashes of light dancing. There was no moon. The horizon was blank.

Andy lived three houses down. I smoked another cigarette between his place and mine. He’d been a fool at the bar, Andy had. He had always been one and the same with the town — even when he died, not long after the island disappeared for the last time. I stamped the cigarette out, went through the kitchen door, and slipped into bed with Elizabeth. We tried not to wake my father.