Fiction #2: Annapolis

She sat in a diner on Main Street
and ate French fries with her fingers
and wrapped her shawl around her shoulders
and looked out at the rain.
The waitress —
a thin-faced woman named Mary —
had to talk to her
twice
to get her attention.
Called her “hon.”
Brought her a tall glass of cool water.
She sipped the water
and tasted the bay
and looked out at the rain,
listened to the wind blowing down the street
towards the water,
face empty,
lost somewhere far off.

Out on the bay somewhere
a Coast Guard man
with a pale brown crew cut
and a waterproof jacket
stood on a boat
and felt the vibrating of the engine
through his boots.
His collar was turned up
and his eyes were squinted against the driving of the wind
and his shoulders were square,
his face
still,
focused,
like it always in a storm,
when the stakes were high
and he found himself heading out
instead of turning for the shore.

Out there somewhere
between the east shore and the west
his body moved with the vibrating of the boat
and he was saving someone,
and the girl in the diner just wanted to touch him.

Out there
was a hell of a lot of water
and the wind was rough,
and sometimes boys drowned.

Strong lungs
filling up with water
cutting the life out —
suffocating.
Brutal.
Tasting nasty like murk and brine.

Over the centuries
there’ve been a hell of a lot
of women’s tears
falling on the ground
of both shores
and making their way
into the bay.

The girl in the shawl
knew he probably
wasn’t thinking of her,
but she pretended he was.
She wrapped the shawl around herself
with cold fingers
and sipped cool water,
and she could almost feel the water of the bay
cold and clammy
lapping up against her heart.

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