Lawrence Russell

The Crossing

§§ The dawn comes up, slow, and sweet, unpolluted by engine noise and human folly. The car is facing east, the dew glistening on the hood. The sea is quiet, a long gleaming band that stretches into the hand of the sun. Two birds dive and circle over the forest, a raven playing with an eagle.

Are you awake? she says. I have to get going.

I'm watching you watching, he says.

He's lying against the passenger door, eyes closed.

What's out there? he says.

Another day, she says. How long do you think it would take to get across there?

He sits up, looks at the sea.

To the other side? he says. Depends.

If you had to swim, she says.

You'd never make it, he says.

He slides over, puts one hand on her neck, the other below her blouse.

What's the big rush? he says.

Kids, school, she says. Where do you want dropped?

I'll walk, he says. Are you gonna be o.k.?

Why not? she says. It's a beautiful day.

She starts the engine as he recovers his jacket and the pack in which he keeps his weed and the bible he nicked from a motel he was painting recently. He tries to kiss her but she's almost indifferent, anxious to get going.

Call me, he says as he closes the door.

She watches as he walks off, disappears down the slope into the ravine that draws to the beach. She thinks, I need a swim, I need to dive right into the water and just keep going... going, going.

She rolls down both windows, hers and his, drives down the access road, comes across the raven and the eagle feasting on the body of a deer lying on the shoulder. The eagle flies off, crossing low into the trees, its large wings undulating in smooth, powerful strokes, but the raven -- large, glossy and bold -- is unperturbed, and continues eating as she passes.

She wonders if they hit the deer on their way into the park last night. Did they? They were so high, so crazy, so gone on themselves. There's a tightening at her heart, the sudden squeeze of guilt, replaced by a sharp, erotic memory.

Well, that's that, she says to herself as she hits the highway, merges with the morning traffic, accelerates.

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The Crossing © LR 2008