Below is the final Part 23 of 23 monthly installments for Visitant.
Silver Supper, a singles prayer group, calls to remind Agnes about the Advent prayer list, but no person, her message machine answers in Bea’s voice, is available.
On a distant shore, Agnes pulls back her hair and holds a conch shell to each ear. In the gurgling wash, she hears the words of Psalm 16, “my portion” in her right ear and “my cup” in her left. The psalmist David is telling the Lord he has enough.
Agnes senses David also has had enough. Mincing his words, he wants no more Almighty favors, no more sweet deals or off-road specials. Poor guy, as a teenager he had to off Goliath with a slingshot. “My reins,” David now asserts, “instruct me in the night season.” Agnes wonders if David is owning his apron strings or looking for a speedy out under cover of dusk.
She puts down the shells and leaves her shoes on the sand for others to find. Lifting her petticoats, she walks into the sea. Burling waves chuck pebbles against the strait. A beautiful horse bucks in the surf.
Agnes sees a white Cadillac sedan idling above the high-tide line. Death’s limo, she knows. The driver, bored, watches her. She sees him adjust his sunglasses, check the time, and peel foil from two sticks of gum. An impatient wind lifts the discarded wrappers like little dancers too young for toe shoes or solo.
Panicked, Agnes battles the undertow and tumbling foam to reach the horse and grab the mane. Panicked, she needs reins to stay afloat. Why doesn’t TN notice, come to her rescue, help? He must be chasing shadows on the sand or fetching driftwood playful kids have tossed for him.
Agnes smells violets, then plunges into the stunning cold depths. She suddenly surfaces, sheaves of wet hair heavy in her arms. The bedclothes, puddled with sweat, taste like tidal pools. She can smell her own blood. Beside her is a cut cord and bawling bundle of sea wrack, baby Adria. Agnes gulps air and hears a second wail. In an instant, she knows those lungs of oak, Dodie!
Twin fins! Congratulations, chorus upside-down faces in white coats.
Agnes giggles, admiring their stitched feathers and intermission aura of cologne, cigars, and ranch mink stoles, ermine-like in black and white. Who are these pretty party people, she wonders, aliens, angels? Feathers, she knows, are a modified dinosaur hair. Do these creatures grow and groom such grand wings in friendship groups?
Agnes pinches herself twice and sits up in a world of wax. Her full breasts hurt. A form leans in from the grey, and kind nurse Jena gives Agnes a kiss on the forehead.
Sssh, she says with a giggle. Don’t tell. TN’s here under the bed. Bea will be along. Who would’ve guessed? She’s guest host of “Dishing Fish,” Chef Davide’s cable cooking show.
About eating dead things from the Gulf of Mexico, thinks Agnes, glad all the same to see friend Jena, fashionable in designer glasses.
Prevailing westerlies lift the clouds and rattle the window glass. Agnes shivers. She feels cold as Sitka, 57˚03’5.62”N 135˚20’19.11”W, home-base of killer whales, gentle beings, black and white.
Can we see Alaska? asks Agnes.
Jena, concerned, rubs her friend’s feet and slips on a pair of tasteful beige mohair socks.
Thanks, says Agnes, but she longs for twilled rainbows, leaf scatter, blown roses—the risks of the Independent Ankle.
TN thumps his tail, good dog, as a girl in pigtails skips into the room. Must by Noby’s little sister, one of the children throwing sticks on the beach. Her left leg is longer than the other and thinner. So what? She can now leash-walk the dog, play jacks, and double Dutch jump-rope with Adria and Dodie.
A barrage of green sugar sprinkles hit the wall.
Duck! Jena calls, as Sofar zooms by on an Italian moped.
Ginger today, his manbread passes for a shaped baked cookie with raisin eyes, candy button fly, and browned 5-o’-clock shadow. Left unattended on the rack to cool, Sofar has eloped with Doctor Winkle, and, whoosh, off to Niger on safari.
So who’s cat sitting Lola? Agnes wonders.
Back at the Slipper Moon, Zen and Pal are touring a fishbowl empire of broken mugs. She must remember to replace those cruddy handles and rims with bling. She can already hear her babies gurgle with glee at the regal flick and flash of queenly fins.
And, oh yes, the succulents. Those hurdy-gurdy plants are having sturdy babies of their own, new selves grown from dropped arms and legs. Agnes will show Noby’s little sister how to care for them. She can learn to water, re-pot, and cast away past sadness.
Glad for the huge bouquet by her bedside, Agnes parts the cellophane and sees Tim and Tom side by side in the bearded iris. Laughing, they wave, but sweet Tom, she knows, no longer in remission, is on the long flight beyond the tree line.
The little birthday woman looks pert as a spring warbler in her new yellow running suit. Res eathee, she says.
Placing a giant muffin on the bed stand, she lights the candle in the center and claps. No more long lines, Agneth, I promith.
To please her, Agnes smiles, takes a deep breath, looks into the cobalt-blue center of the flame, and blows out the candle.
Colors of the tourmaline wash into the room. TN thumps his tail under the bed, and the babies open their eyes in reflex.
Seeking peace, thinks Agnes, this is the way the world begins.