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    Jensen Beach

    30. Destination

    By Jensen Beach

    From across the room Martin was monitoring his wife. He planned on taking her home before she could drink too much. Henry, the son of the party’s hostess, was speaking very loudly about the variety of modern coffin-building materials. He was twenty-two and appeared to have a preoccupation with dying morally. Martin did his best to listen, but Henry kept going on and on about biodegradability and the cycle of life until Martin believed he saw, on the cream-colored wall above his wife’s head, the image of a tree growing out of his own decomposing skull.

    It was getting late. Louise was beginning to show signs. She had an easy tell: Her left eyelid drooped as if part of her brain were shutting down. Henry said “banana leaf eco-coffin” and Martin saw Louise’s eye began to twitch and her head cock to the right. She was prone to compromised vision. Martin excused himself, maneuvered his way past two women whom he knew his wife disliked and who smelled he thought like chlorine, took Louise by the elbow, and led her from the room.

    Louise struggled to keep up. She said, “excuse us, excuse us, oh, excuse us,” as they walked down the empty hall.

    “Martin,” Louise said. “I was enjoying myself.”

    “Precisely,” he said. The last time they had stayed too long at a party, Louise spent much of the next afternoon on the Internet, purchasing replacement butterflies and dolphins for a shattered collection of glass animal figurines.

    Earlier there was rain but it had passed. They walked to the car and Martin kept his eyes on Venus. The planet, he had read online, had been visible in the night sky for the last month or so. Lately, Martin had discovered that he enjoyed reading about astronomy. . . . Read More.


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