Forever Young

Posted on: December 2, 2014

It soon became clear that the children were not going to stop.

Their bickering reminded her of the sounds of childhood back on the island. The washing rattle of waves. The sporadic tick-tocking of coconuts falling from trees in the dark. Her father’s record player spinning black vinyl, and a singer who possessed a wincing, death-rattle of a voice. Her father, who died young at 55 and never set foot on United States soil, was obsessed with the voice. The voice’s name was Bob Dylan.

She would call it ironic, the extent to which that voice somehow scored her own life. But irony wasn’t the right word. It was more just weird. Coincidental, maybe. Like it was written in the stars. Like it was.. what? Blowing in the wind?

Sara Hibbing had been named after a Bob Dylan song. More specifically, she had been named after the final track on his 1976 record, Desire - her father’s favorite.

It was astonishing, really, that she was not more aware of this fact when it came time to name her own daughter. She wished that she could take a boat to the past, hold that particular record sleeve in her hands, flip over to the list of songs on the back, and focus her attention on the second track. By the time she actually did this, in a now-demolished record store on Mercy Street, it was more out of nostalgia than curiosity.

It was of course, by then, too late.

“Isis,” she said, addressing her daughter. “Get your stuff together. We’re leaving.”

The little girl shook her head vehemently in the negative.

“Isis,” Sara repeated. “Do as I say.”

Isis looked at her little brother, Joseph - Joey - and it was as if the two of them sang the same sibling song, and the name of the song was “Hell no... hell no... hell no, we won’t go.”

The two comrades had an unspoken bond, and Sara would revel in the existence of that bond any other time, but goddamnit, not this time. Not right now.

Where was Allen when you actually needed him?

“Mama, look!” shouted Joey.

The boy then proceeded to throw his half-finished ice cream directly at his sister. Unfortunately, on account of his tiny arms and the perilous slickness of melting ice cream, his heave fell well short and to the left of his intended sisterly target, instead slapping Sara right in the forehead.

The vanilla cream, more liquid than frozen at this point, slid down her face like a tired drunk against a wall.

It was at this exact moment that Allen emerged from the ice cream shop that he and his wife had labored over for the last six years. Six years gone since the purchase of property. Six years living with the reward from their weirdly perilous journey to the dark heart of the American dream. Six years since winning the lottery.

When he saw his wife, when he saw her face behind the ice cream mask, he involuntarily made the same face that his son was making; bulging eyes and a gaping mouth full of shock, and at the moment, a bit of Rocky Road.

Allen had beautiful skin that once drove Sara’s grandmother to proclaim him, “an angel come down from heaven.” As if God physically reached out to the young boy - just another brown boy spending too much time in the Kingston sun - touched him and made him something more than the rest of us.

Sometimes when Sara looked at him she just wanted to rub against him. Nose to nose. Palm to palm. Didn’t matter.

After buying the abandoned ice cream shop - shortly before Isis and a bit more before Joey - they had cleaned it themselves. It was in need of a thorough brush and scrub so they gathered broken boards, painted the walls a light blue color of the sea - a color of home - swept up all matter of cobwebs, and scrubbed on hands and knees until their biceps ached.

After they were finished Robert produced a small joint, and they smoked it leaning against the counter that would soon serve Caribbean ice cream. And when they were done with the joint they fucked like teenagers on that very same counter.

She knew the word was crass, but just the thought of saying it turned her on now. Robert and his beautiful body. So sweaty from work that she had to peel that red shirt off him. Like it had melted to his torso. When it stuck on his head they both giggled and she looked down at his bare stomach, and those muscles that made a “V” down to his cock (she never knew the name of them but she adored them), and...goodness.

But time pays no heed to fools - not even the young.

They never fucked anymore. They had sex, and it was like they had never before seen each other naked. Exotic positions, most ending in failed laughter, had been replaced by a sort of intense missionary eye contact. Allen preferred making love, as he called it.

But she couldn’t blame him alone. It was on both of them. She knew it was to be expected. Knew it was normal. But she had never wanted to be normal before, so why now? Why with such an important thing? With such a fun thing? It wasn’t the penetration that she craved; it was Allen’s laugh as he fell off the edge of bed, clutching a cramped leg and yelling her name; his beautiful bum the last she would see of him before he popped back up and collapsed next to her in a tired heap of love.

And now there was ice cream. Ice cream all over. Children that were beautiful as their father now, but would soon plump and fatten like all the other American children. All because of this fucking ice cream.

She wondered if other lottery winners ever wished they had never bought the ticket, or in her case, that her husband had never bought the ticket, had never used her birthday and their anniversary digits and forfeited them to the convenience store clerk as if they had lost all their chastity; defrocked by that dream, the mansion on the hill; just like everything else in this country. Was nothing left?

Sara was a volcano and the scream that erupted from her mouth had started deep inside her soul, subterranean and building until she unleashed it upon the world like spewing lava.

Isis fell silent, as did Joey, and also Allen. They looked at her like one looks at a lion, waiting for that natural power to take hold, to unleash that violent instinct.

And goddamnit, she thought, I am a lion. I am a fucking lion and now I will scorch earth as I make my way across this wasteful land, as I burn my path through children, husbands, Americans, lottery tickets, cream.

The vanilla had slid past her nose and on to her lips. It was, save her soul, terrifically good. Her family stood in silent awe of her maternal divinity; frozen in her golden glow.

She was the planet and they were her moons.

From a passing car, Bob Dylan croaked through the second verse of “Forever Young,” commanding her and her family to always be courageous.

To stand upright, and be strong.

Written by: Logan Theissen
Photograph by: Nathan Mansakahn

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