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[H]ere you will come undone.
The Thought was odd. Too dark for the cloudless, turquoise morning and even weirder, not my own. The words I could sense, and almost touch if I wanted to, but they didn’t crystallize from my mind. It was as if each time I watched the sailor work the ropes to set his boat free and look toward the hotel on the edge of the Maspalomas Dunes, he was looking at me. Or he could’ve been looking through me, an insignificant nothing standing on a palm-treed porch next to a 30-foot heave of sand.
It intrigued me and scared me, this thought that wasn’t mine. The Thought made me want to hide under the broken sink in the second bathroom and dance in the moonlit midnight until hours later, it arrived.
Despite how I was feeling, I walked dutifully out on my balcony every morning, at the exact moment when he sent the Thought into the world, and because I was the only one ready to catch it, I did. By the time the Thought landed, the sailor was already on his boat, his bare back facing the sun so I couldn’t see his face. He dipped his oars into the bluish water carefully, a floating silhouette of shadowy detail.
Here you will come undone.
The Thought looped inside my brain, repeating itself over and over, again and again. Always the same words, always the same toneless tone. A Thought but not my own.
They were just words, I’d remind myself. Let the Thought go. It’s empty sound. I’m not coming undone. This is where my life starts again, not where it falls apart with the tide.
Here you will come undone.
After three or four choruses of the Thought in my brain, I felt dizzy. My knees shook mildly, sweat that had nothing to do with the hot Spanish dawn beaded between my brows. That’s exactly when my husband would join me on the porch and place a warm cup of coffee in my hand.
To say I don’t love Charlie would be a lie. I do. He’s the companionable equivalent of the hotel coffee I sipped. Adequate, safe and slightly too strong. As an accountant, I did all the necessary calculations before our courthouse wedding last week. Am I happy? Check. Am I secure? Check. Am I in love? Probably. On the basis of romantic EBIDTA, he was a solid investment.
I met Charlie six months ago at the jazz lounge I sometimes visited on Saturday nights. Its large picture windows are tinted darker than they should be. Inside it’s all dark wood and tiny candles on hightop tables. The singer who croons there on the weekend reminds me of a pitchier Bobby Darrin and performs “Mack the Knife” about a third as well.
When we met Charlie was wearing a tie with green fish on it. The fish folded as he grabbed my hand and asked what I wanted to drink. He was at least six feet tall with the broad shoulders of a competitive diver. I remember thinking his hair was the exact shade of sunscreen blonde. His smile was warm and his hand was a little rough. He told me he was an oceanographer visiting the Canary Islands for the week to study the migration of the whales. As he leaned in to speak, I could smell the salt on his skin. I didn’t think much about the words the singer warbled as we left together — Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe, scarlet billows start to spread — and decided in my mathematician’s brain Charlie was the best I’d ever do.
It was new love’s luck Charlie’s next project was here, in Las Palmas, a three-week research study of loggerhead turtles, what Charlie calls Caretta carettaI like when he speaks in science, I imagine instead of an oceanographer he’s a magician and his most brilliant spell will be cast on me.
Charlie isn’t boring, he’s just serious and a little dry, which might be a contradiction for a man who spends half his life in the sea. He doesn’t like sports or have any real hobbies but he loves to talk about this place. Yesterday, Charlie was explaining the sand dunes to me. Something about an exposed marine shelf, the Ice Age and then BAM! Just like that … thirty and forty-foot skyscrapers made entirely of sand. They dipped and dribbled endlessly stopped only by the ocean and its endless waves of blue.
“I’m due on the boat in fifteen,” he tells me on this third morning, kissing my cheek, swallowing a bite of strawberry scone. “You’ll be fine, right? I won’t be back until tomorrow afternoon but you’ll be OK?”
It was sweet how much he worried about me. His brown eyes stared directly into mine and seeing nothing unusual, darted away. Ever since I told him the firm wouldn’t let me take a three-week sabbatical and when they refused, I had quit, he’d been concerned. He asked if I was sure this was the right move. I told him it was but I knew he only half believed me. Charlie was nervous about the idea my entire happiness now rested on his wide, swimmer’s shoulders. In the span of our one month together, I’d let my life slip into his. Even if I couldn’t explain the cause of my uncharacteristic rashness, I didn’t feel any regret.
Here you will come undone.
“I’ll be great, Charlie. Seriously. Go do what you need to do to save the seagrass and stop worrying about me. There’s bingo in the lobby at four o’clock and I plan to have at least three banana daiquiris before noon then walk the dunes for a while. What could go wrong?”
I walked out onto the porch, shaded spottily by a few palm trees. In my mind Bobby Darrin was singing. Not the wanna-be from the lounge where Charlie and I met when he wore the fish tie. The real Bobby Darrin. Mack the Knife Bobby. His smooth voice careened into the late-morning air, mixing with the Thought I couldn’t quite shake until Bobby Darrin became the shirtless sailor who became Charlie whose face swirled in a tube of sunscreen until it took on the shape of that little boat moored to the dock and then, the boat became me.
The Thought was gone. The Truth remained. Here I was undone.


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