We drank purple grape wine till dawn, then drove to the water and parked the truck just at the edge of the beach. Some waves came up the tires. Hello tires, they said. We laughed with our heads thrown back, kissed for a minute with forceful lips, and then passed out on the flatbed, sleeping bags and cold wheelwells pinning us ever closer.
First light came after a long black sleep. The truck had drifted into the sea. We must have been out there for hours; it could have been days. I had some chocolate covered mints in my pocket and ate two and so did Jack. We hugged frantically, then wondered aloud about the state of things.
Water is a very beautiful thing if you are not afraid, said Jack. Are you afraid?
A little, I replied, because I was. There was so much of it and just the two small bits of us.
Don’t worry, he said, and climbed into the cab through the back window.
I’m not so much afraid of the water, I told him, climbing in myself, I’m more afraid of what’s inside the water. There are jellyfish and stingrays and sharks and Fungleharder fish and, I’m sure, some eel.
Jack tried to start the engine but it was flooded. There are all those things, he said, but if you do not bother them, they will not bother you.
I had no intentions of bothering them, so this relaxed me. But then… What If I accidentally bother them, I said, you know, we accidentally run into the head of a baby shark and the mother gets mad, what if she calls her poisonous friends and they jump out of the water and fly into the truck and sting me or chew me dead or…
Jack stopped me and said: Let’s listen to the radio.
We picked up only one station, and the reception was poor. It was someone named Roy and he was playing a banjo. It was a very beautiful distraction for about twenty minutes. I held Jack’s hand, ate a sandwich from the night before, rolled down the window and let me hair blow back all salt-water tangly. But then the plunk of the banjo started to get on my nerves and I picked a fight.
I told Jack if he hadn’t won the lottery he wouldn’t have been able to buy the purple grape wine we drank till dawn, and he certainly would not have been able to buy the truck we drove to the beach; and he told me not to worry (don’t worry, he said) because the money was all spent anyhow and as soon as we got back to shore, he said, I’m gonna give up the bottle and trade the truck for something smaller, a two-door maybe. Something red.
I folded my arms in a pout. Jack turned to me: What? What, goddammit!?
There was no time to be reasonable. It was getting dark and the sea kept folding itself over and over like a giant green bowl of batter. It reminded me how frightened I was, and how hungry I was. How delicious a cake would be! Then Jack pulled from his jacket a package of spongy sweet snacks and in that instant I forgave him for everything. But he must not have forgiven me because he did not share. And so I was still mad. Turned to face the window, away from his gnawing maw.
That’s when I noticed something up ahead. Not far in the distance. Just right there. I looked, blinked, Jack was eating his cakes, not paying attention, but for sure, it was, indeed…. holy shit! A four way stop! Signs and everything. And a small bobbing car of teenagers. It was terribly exciting. It was people, other people! Oh how nice, I thought. But then we realized, and they realized, that we had no brakes, that neither of us had brakes, and we were coming to the stop at exactly the same time. We put on our seatbelts, braced.
Impact was slight due to the speed at which we were traveling. Nonetheless, we needed to take down their names and insurances.
Hello, they waved.
Hello, we said.
Purple grape wine? they asked. They knew.
Yes, we said, a little embarrassed.
Us too, they motioned.
Because we could not stop and they also could not stop, we did not have a chance to get their information. They drifted through the intersection, noses pressed to the glass, then fell out of view.
He handed me the last bite of his cake. I stuffed the sweet thing into my mouth and apologized for earlier, for the accident, asked was he ok, did his neck hurt or anything, was he sore?
No, he shook. No. But, he said, I feel as though we’re sinking.
Sinking? I managed to say, the cake being very thick in my mouth. We’re sinking?
He stuck his head out the window to put a chalk mark on the tires. We waited several minutes in relative silence. There was a noise of considerable lapping. Then he stuck himself back out the window and saw that the mark had disappeared.
Yes, he said, we’re sinking.
I cried for a good amount of time. So did Jack. I looked to the rear of the truck and found it was many inches thick with water. Small sea frogs backstroked across our bed from the night before. When I could not cry any longer… I stopped. We tried a little to make love, but decided it was neither the time nor the place.
It got darker and darker until it was full-blown night. Jack turned on the headlights. Frosty pockets of sea shone bright. My eyes were gummy from the salty air and also from the crying. There was nothing left to eat and only a little time before the weight of the water in the back of the truck would pull the machine down, including us.
So this is what it feels like to be doomed, I said.
Jack was too preoccupied with his own gloom to comfort me in mine. I thought: this cannot possibly get any worse. Then it did.
A swarm of Fungleharder fish surrounded us. These are the smiling kind of fish. They smile when they are about to eat something. They circled our sinking selves like big black non-winged buzzards of the sea, and I think they were more leering than smiling actually. They glowed a little too.
They nipped at the truck, taking small bites at first, then moved onto larger chunks: tires and hubcaps and wheelwells at once. They got into the engine. Metallic clatter came from under the hood. It was the sound of fish teeth on spark plugs and it was horrendous.
Some wires must have shorted or crossed because the radio came back on, and it was Roy, and he was playing his banjo, and it was the sweetest saddest song I’d ever heard and I wanted nothing more at that moment than to hear him play. I asked Jack would he like to dance and he sulked and said I was an idiot.
I love you, I said. Love, love, love you.
Then I unbuckled my seatbelt, rolled down the window and squeezed my way out. The water was choppy and cold, but no more so than Jack. I swam very fast.
Goodbye, I yelled. Goodbye to you! I saw him look out the window. I saw him look. He did nothing else but this.
The truck bobbed for a little while more. I could hear Roy strumming on the old banjo, I could hear Jack cursing me and the lottery and the sea and the truck and the snack cakes and those Fungleharder fish biting into his body—he cursed as much as I’d ever heard him curse before.
Goodbye, I whispered. Goodbye to you. And then he was gone. The truck was gone completely. The tinny banjo, silent. Jack, silent. And me, out there by myself, surprisingly, welcomingly, unafraid.