The Escape

At the end of winter.

American fade, from subway window to the sea, via the map.

“--and now taxes,” I said.

“Taxes,” she said. “And war, endless war. War with ugly faces and old men. Looting and television anchors. SARS and death over here, ignorance, pestilence, lies. And over here, Ray, three blocks away in scratched blue, a Honda and half a tank of gasoline. Spring, Ray.” She whispered, right into my ear: “Spring.”

I pushed her away. “Taxes.”

“Do the postpone form.”

“I always do the postpone form.”

“So you can do it this year.”

“This was going to be the year I didn't do the postpone form.”

She put on the fan, and the room filled with warm, fresh air. “My entire month has been robbed by bad news and bad weather. Fuck this government. Winter is over. They got enough out of us. Four days, Ray.”

“I work on Monday.”

“Take personal days.”

“Come on.” I closed my eyes.

“And this.” She took my hand and pulled up her shirt, and put my hand on her stomach, soft and white. She jutted it out. “Look.”

I looked up from my place on the sofa, seeing her chin and short-cropped hair over the hill of her stomach. Her stomach was warm and full of motion. She was jumping from side to side. “3 days,” I said. “I'll take one personal day.”

“We'll take sweaters,” she said, rapturous, moving away and looking at nothing. The curtains moved in the air. The light caught her eyes sideways.

“I'll carry all the bags.”

“I appreciate that. Let's look at the map,” she said. A map without arrows, a map without Kurds.

“What's our destination?”

Spring!” She went to the window, turned on the fan. “I think the ocean.”

“We're already at the ocean. The ocean is blocks away.”

“A different ocean. One with beaches, one you can touch. A cold spring ocean. An island, a peninsula. Ray, we'll use credit cards for everything.”

“I have cash.”

Credit cards for everything. We're banking on the future. The summer will be good and fertile. Now is the time for debt.”

“What about Massachusetts?” I said.

“Sure,” she said. “They have parks there. We'll go out on the hook.”

“The cape.”

“Maybe it will rain at night, and the water will hit the tent and the trees will rustle. We'll curl up in the sleeping bag. I'll hold your feet and rest my head on your hips. You'll put your head under my chin. In the morning I'll roll around in the wet grass like a puppy. We could take a ferry somewhere. If the sky is clear we'll have a fire. The stars. Our feet will get cold and we'll eat sandwiches.” She grabbed both my hands and pulled. I sat upright, stretched my neck. She let me go and kissed my forehead.

“Should we name it?” I asked. “Operation something or other? Operation American Freedom? Operation Beach Quiet? What do we call it?”

“Call it spring,” she said.

.  .  .  .  .  

This ode to Spring was sponsored by Greg Allen of Greg.org. He's over there making movies. Take a look.




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


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