Saturday, April 1, 2023

the last book I ever read (Vendela Vida's We Run the Tides, excerpt thirteen)

from We Run the Tides: A Novel by Vendela Vida:

My legs begin running downhill. I run past the house where Jefferson Starship used to live and where China’s long swing used to hang above the ocean, but the swing is gone and so is Starship. I run past the house that used to give out King Size Hershey’s candy bars every Halloween, and past the house that belonged to Carter the Great and is now rented out by the president of a bank. I run past the house where a classmate’s hair caught on fire when she was blowing out her birthday candles. I run past the house with the turret, the house where, briefly, I took in the newspapers. I race past the house where the mom uses a wheelchair—we never learned why. I see my own house on the right, looking so compact between the immense houses that border it. I turn away and keep running.

I run past palm trees and I run past gardeners with their trucks and loud leaf blowers and grating rakes. My body is sweating and cooled by the fog as I approach China Beach. My feet make a galloping sound as they race down the ninety-three steps. The beach is empty this gloomy morning. Once on the sand, I hastily remove my shoes and socks. I run to the water’s edge and the cold ocean licks my toes. Without touching my face I can feel that it’s wet with fog and tears and sweat. I stand there, on the cusp of the ocean and listen to its loud inhale. And then it recedes and takes everything from my childhood with it—the porcelain dolls, the tap-dancing shoes, the concert ticket stubs, the tiny trophies, and the long, long swing.

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