It’s All Science Fiction

You veered the rental car off the two-lane highway and onto dirt. We got out, walked around a few other parked cars. You said the guidebook said one of the island’s nicest beaches waited at the bottom of what looked like a long, meandering, rocky slope. The book said it was a local beach, a beach for the locals, hidden and not overrun. I watched your eyes dart across the landscape. A truck flashed by on the road, and we both jumped, breathing in its dust and exhaust. You said: Guidebooks destroy the sanctity of a place, the secrecy. I said: These things are always changing. We started down, following some footprints until they disappeared. It was grassy where we were, yellow. Shrubby trees parted to reveal a path. A bald hill to our right grew slowly larger. We couldn’t hear the ocean, only glimpsed it when it appeared beyond the ridge ahead. Far to our left, about two miles or so, an expanse of volcanic rock shimmered, jutting up, rounding off. Even from this distance, I could see exactly where the lava had cooled and turned black against the air. Where it stopped and froze millions of years ago. A metaphor came to me then, and I let it evolve as we hiked. The two of us, me and you, we were like eggs, like those giant, green extraterrestrial eggs from movies. We sat side by side, connected by tubes that looked like they were manufactured in some strange factory. Who made those tubes, I wondered, who attached them from egg to egg? The ocean appeared again, a line of deep blue against scorched land. The sun was hot and should have burnt us but didn’t. We were sweating but not really. I took your hand. We scanned for spouts of whales. Ten minutes later we found what resembled a camp. The remnants of what had been a great bonfire had burned down into a pit of cold ashes inside a ring of seared stones. A small school bus sat off to the side, stranded among some trees. Someone had painted it and someone else had graffitied over that and someone else had shattered the windshield. When we got closer, we saw bullet holes riddling the side. I snapped a picture while you glanced about, a hand shielding your eyes. I don’t see anyone, you said, but at the instant you said it, something moved on the hill and we both looked. It was a goat, watching us. You said: It might charge. It won’t, I told you. You’d always been good at creating dangers and pleasures in your head, cowering away from both. I decided to torture you a bit, and I crept up to the bus and peered through one of the broken windows. I almost hoped there’d be someone sleeping inside, but there wasn’t. I went back and took your hand and let it drop. Trade winds ruffled the air. A half hour later we heard waves, and the beach appeared beyond a line of bushes and low trees. Water hit the white sand in such a way that I knew it was deep and warm. You slumped and took off your shirt. You closed your eyes. I laid out a towel. A few other people scattered about, the first we’d seen, and a group floated in the water on boards above the coral. I thought of those eggs again for some reason, the alien spawn, the separate shells, the toxic air inside and out. I said: I think I know why we need those tubes, those horrible, fake-looking tubes. You stared out over the sand and water. You were used to me saying things like this, and you knew you didn’t have to respond. You said it was one of the reasons you loved me. I believed it.  

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