It was July. They sat on the raised platform of one of the sculptures and watched the sea. The sky was a crisp blue with a light scattering of clouds, the air so thin that Silja was sure she could see Sweden gleam under the sun some 14 kilometres away on the other side of the waterway. Akari thought this was ludicrous. “It’s your imagination, silly,” she said. “How can anybody see that far?” Silja had promised Akari this visit to Copenhagen’s Louisiana, for a few years and when they found out about a special Yoko Ono exhibition, they both agreed that the time was right for a day out. But when they got there they were hungry, they wanted coffee, and then they were distracted by the sunshine that is rarely ever found that high up in the north. They settled beside the sculpture and caught up over the stories that they owed each other. Since graduating they had busied themselves with work and all the rest of that grown up stuff and didn’t get the chance to meet up as often as they used to.
Dermot and I broke up over football. That is what I like to tell people. I can even pinpoint the match that set everything off. Norwich City vs. Man U. The argument took off when Dermot checked the score on his phone in the middle of sex. With me. I always switch my phone off during sex but I’m seven years older than Dermot, who is twenty-nine. I remember unplugging the landline in my first rented flat before closing my bedroom door and facing a boy. I still find phone jacks a bit sexual. Maybe Dermot’s dismay about Norwich losing contributed to his dwindling of erection. Maybe not. It’s too late to ask now.
Someone is rubbing your arm. The moment comes to you in patches: you’re not in your bedroom, you’re in the living room; it’s not morning yet, but it’s close to it; someone is rubbing your arm. It’s your husband. He bends into your neck and kisses it. He pulls at your nipple. You’d rather sleep, but you arch against him anyway. When he speaks, his voice is low and sure. He tells you to go to the bedroom and to leave the door open.
One nice thing about Josh having more money than God these days, even if the rest of it is colossally weird: whenever they hang out now, the food is always amazing. "Remember in high school when we used to cut seventh and go to Taco Bell all the time?" Natalie asks, knifing a slice of cheese off a block that probably cost about as much as this semester’s grad stipend. They're sitting on the back porch of Josh's cabin, sun just starting to sink and Lake Michigan glittering through a cluster of pine trees, a long pathway snaking down to a dock.
As she inspects each of the roundish shapes, she plays with her toes, as if they are buried in sand. The smell of the sea plays with her nostrils and at that very moment she feels the breeze beginning to go round her legs. She turns around in a pleasant shock to investigate which window has been opened and who the source is to that immense act of kindness. The windows are still shut. A woman has walked past her, in a pace too brisk for the context. She follows her steps with her eyes and moves her head up slowly, from the tan, ankle-length boots to tight black jeans, the narrow camel belt, the white, white, white shirt. The mystery woman stops across from her and watches out the window. She likes her cropped, blond hair and the simple elegance that she carries.
I yawned and opened my eyes. Early morning sunlight was streaming in through the blinds. A cool breeze ruffled pleasantly through my exposed pubic hair. It tickled. I felt myself becoming aroused. I glanced down at my body, dappled with the warming rays of the sun. My breasts were bare. My belly was bare. My thighs were bare. In fact, the only part of me that wasn’t bare was my right foot, to which still clung to the more stubborn half of a cotton ankle sock.
Why should I be bound to thee,
They weren’t brothers but people thought they were. They had been asked three times since they had come here. Once Richard had agreed when someone asked and the stranger had nodded. They had only known each other two days. Now they sat on the shore. Richard looked right into her eyes when they fucked but then as he got closer to coming he’d reach up and take a handful of her hair and pull it then twist his other arm under her, between her body and her arms so she was pinned with her breasts arched out against him. He would tell her he was coming and she would turn her head so his breath was warm in her ear. John was different. Slimmer. He was easier to laugh with. With him sex was rough but then he would find her mouth and kiss her with tenderness.
I’m sitting in the hospital lobby, waiting for them to come out and call me. It’s packed: everywhere you look, pregnant women sit by themselves, with their partner, with other children clinging to their knees and crying for attention. Some of their faces are happy, some tired and worn out by one too many sleepless nights, some are reading baby parenting books like they hold more truth than the Bible. The high pitched squeals do nothing to soothe my nerves: my eyes keep darting to the ultrasound room door. I just wish I could tell them all to shut up and be quiet, but somehow I don’t think that would go down too well with the hormone-crazed women sharing the room with me. So I just slouch a little in my plastic chair and go back to staring at the door.