There were five of them
they came from out of the sky and landed on the beach
each one here for a different person
each one speaking a different language
and dressed in navy blue diving suits
darting toward us in a clump of movement
I, along with everyone else, sprinted to meet them
screaming “English, English?”
you had exactly 45 minutes before they expired and you wanted it to count
4 years ago now
it was a small boy
we talked about stars and flying ships
this time I was hoping for someone more my age
but the volunteers were hard to come by these days
I was moving toward this voice now like an inflated balloon with its knot having just been untied.
and I ran right into her
After the contact, I rose and found myself staring down at a woman about ten years my senior, with silver hair and blue eyes as lovely as I’d ever seen
“My name is Mary Beth, I, of course, am dying.” Her first words.
They all were — the young boy was — no one else in their right mind would make the trip.
“I’m sorry. I mean I always assume, but it never makes it any less sad,” I said.
The nearest pair to us was several yards away, making angels in the sand, and feverishly discussing a Baudelaire poem in French.
“So what made you decide to make the trip? I mean, you could have had more time out there.”
“Well, not as much as you think. And truthfully, we all left in such a hurry. I missed how beautiful it was here,” the woman said, wistfully. “Gosh I haven’t seen an ocean in two decades. I just wanted to have a last look.”
“You are lucky, to be here,” the woman added.
She was wrong, of course. The last five years had been the harshest in two decades, and it was only getting harder.
“Well, enough talk. Let’s swim,” I told her, a fair bit louder than I imagined the words coming out of my mouth.
At that, her eyes became the size of small plums, and she grinned, revealing a mouth full of maize-yellow teeth.
I couldn’t believe my luck. She was perfect.