Jesse Jarnow

the island, no. 9

(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

The words David Mallis used to describe the sky over the island during the time it disappeared from the mainland’s view were twisted into numerous variations. “Blood red!” was one account. “Chalk black and starless,” another. I was not present for any of the interrogations that day. Elizabeth and I spent the afternoon pulling her trunks up Oak Street to the house on a red wagon. Between trips, we drank cold beers on the front porch, enjoying the chill.

That day’s utterances remained David Mallis’s final public thoughts on the matter until the day he moved from town, several years later, after the lobsters disappeared. “I knew what was coming,” he said on that occasion, as we watched the fire destroy the bulkhead. The water shimmered and distorted behind the heat. “After all, the whole sky looked like that,” he noted.

Elizabeth and I were on our final trip to the house when my father erupted. We were on the lawn. The floor lamp in his room flickered, as objects fluttered and fell in front of it. It was his worst tantrum yet. It would be three days before I could reorganize the maps for him. “It’s not you,” I promised Elizabeth, though I couldn’t be sure.

“I didn’t think it was,” she said.


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