By Teal Fitzpatrick
When they told me I could take one thing with me, and I told them I chose you, the gatekeepers did not object.
When I arrive, I dash to look for you. I look behind the boat and in the hut. I climb the high trees and dig into the moat of a perfect sandcastle. I even look behind a precarious pile of oddly shaped boxes. To no avail. To ponder, I need a sit and a drink. The sunshine, chaise lounge, and martini are little consolation. This, I think, was not the deal. I shake my fist and curse the heavens. I spit and moan. I run through the shelter and tear art off the walls. I pee on the floor of the hut. This is when the thunder roars.
Mid-squat, I’m thrown against the wall. My rant has caused this upheaval, of this I am sure, and our Paradise turns hellish, and surrenders to the tormenting storm. Time passes, a moment and an eternity at once, and the world’s rage subsides, if not mine. I crawl to peek outside the window-sash, checking for signs of a plague, I suppose. No frogs, no lice, no blood-steeped streams. Just a blinding light that shines pointedly down on that cardboard pile. I stick a toe out the door and find no rain. Ears still ringing from thunder and rage, I scream a banshee’s scream and run straight into the light.
What strange boxes. They quiver. They glow and wail. They shake as I hesitate and then, when they shriek, I tear the first open. Silence. I am staring at your left hand—pink and soft—and cannot keep down my joyful grin as I clasp your hand in mine and dance wildly around the island, singing hymns and two-stepping in my bikini and cowboy boots. For the next three hours, I put you together. You came with two right legs, but I don’t mind. When I debox your head, your hair is wrong, so I part it right and trim the back, which has grown a little long. You have gray hair I’ve never seen before. I stretch your lips into a smile, and it almost stays.
Finally, you’re here, propped in the chair next to mine, and you’ll never go away again. You sip your drink until your wrist loosens, and your glass falls. I don’t mind, honey; we’ll mop up later. Just sit with me now and right before bed, I’ll move your mouth, and we’ll sing lullabies.