I am a rock. I am an island. *
The sky was pale grey in the West. She swiped the palm of her hand across one dry, blurry eye. Her eyes hurt and had a pink tinge from the cigarette smoke and the smoke from the burning of her journals and computer hard drive in front of the fireplace before the drive commenced. She had been driving since one o'clock in the morning stopping only long enough to pee and buy more cigarettes at one of the many all night gas stations along the highway. She pressed a fingernail into her gum between her front bottom teeth and tasted blood with the tip of a cottony tongue. Riding shotgun was the pile of tissue used to wipe the tears and snot from her face before her head ran dry, now it was empty. As she pulled off the highway onto the side road leading to St. Mary's from habit she glanced at the gas gauge, near empty. She only needed enough to get there, someone else would take care of the return trip.
Waffle House glowed as she passed by, filled with the few who had forsaken sleep by choice or necessity. The Spanish moss hanging from the trees made the air smell like a graveyard. The boy soldiers were in evidence, coming in from late nights or starting early days. Developers had been here since her last visit. High priced lots were for sale where before there had only been swamp. Main Street still looked like something straight out of Mayberry. She remembered those streets in a boozy haze, back when she still pursued fun. The only other cars parked near the ferry belonged to the park service employees. Not many tourists went to the island this time of year.
The only bar in town wouldn't open for ten more hours. She bought a large styrofoam cup of coffee from the cafe near the dock, emptied half of it into a nearby trashcan, and added three mini-bottles of Baileys from her glove compartment to cut the taste. She cleared her car of trash, left the keys in the ignition, and gently shut the driver's side door before settling on the hood of the car. A chilly breeze blew in off the water and the ferry tied to the dock swayed and bumped with the waves. A park ranger approached her, they chatted about preservation, job satisfaction, and low federal wages. She dug five crumpled hundred dollar bills from her right pocket and crushed them into his palm. "I have friends on the island," she said, "could you take me there?" The ranger looked uncertain and she smiled at him.
They climbed into the smaller motor boat also moored to the dock and started across the choppy water. The backs of dolphins glistened between the waves and all she could hear was the sound of the motor. The ranger put the boat into idle and they slid up to the dock. She quickly dembarked, he tipped his hat, and sped back toward mainland. Inside the island ranger station a bearded man made coffee and scratched his head, oblivious to being watched. Past the resident parking, between the trees, past sea camp, over the dune bridge, and to the sea. A pack of wild horses milled on the beach in the distance.
She walked to the water's edge and carefully removed the black cashmere sweater, her father's 30 year old Levi's, and clogs. She placed her mother's pearls on top of the carefully folded clothing and put her license in the pocket of the empty jeans. As she marched into the sea the cold water was shocking, then she became numb as she swam away from the shore.
*Song by Simon and Garfunkle