Issue 35, Final Fringe

Ringlet

by Russell Hehn Issue 28 10.24.2011

Mason got it.  She really didn’t understand, and he could recognize this.  She looked like a little kid wearing a necktie with that thing floating over her head, that pointless little accessory.

“What do you suppose we should do then? …Since we’re both so clueless.”

“I reckon we should step outside.  Get some ol’ air in the ol’ lungs.”

Mason nodded.

This was Orona—the old Tongan cemetery island—though the stalwart graves, rough-hewn of coral and bedecked with pearls, devoid of birth dates and death dates and names, were across the lagoon, the island itself being of a ring-like shape, surrounded by the vast Pacific on all sides and filled in with a tepid, lapping pool at the center.

Redbone, Gus, Monty and Cuffs were leaning out the side door of the floatplane like puppies waiting to go for a ride.  The motor was still running.

“Redbone!” shouted Mason.  “Kill it!  We’re staying for a visit.” At which a collective “aww, man,” issued from cargo bay and carried across the water.  Redbone killed the engine and Cuffs pulled out a deck of cards.  “Who’s in?” he asked.  They all were.

The sun was setting behind Mason and Amelia.  Its rays, filtering through the coconut leaves and palm fronds, came in contact with the halo occasionally and sparkled golden across the sand.

“I haven’t been out of the house in ages,” said Amelia, holding the hem of her jacket with both hands, front and back, against the breeze.  “How long have I been out here?”

“Couple weeks,” said Mason.

“Is that so?” said Amelia, sincerely surprised.  “And I haven’t had a bite to eat this whole time.”

“Is that so?” said Mason, who’d recently resigned himself to the idea of the unordinary being commonplace.

“I never did like coconuts anyway,” she said.  “Dreadful things.  ’S’all there is to eat on this rock.  Give me an almond.  I’d kill for an almond.  Smoked, preferably.  It’s such a treat to find a good smoked almond with just a little salt.  Not a lot of salt.  I like to taste the actual almond, you see.  Smoked almond.  There’s a nut.”

Mason nodded.  Mason smiled.  He’d felt this before, this rift in conversation.  That was the way people talked when they knew they were about to part ways.  That was the way Dolly had talked before he shipped off.  She talked about sewing, about re-stitching a pillow, about pearl buttons and a hound’s-tooth apron, because she didn’t want to say goodbye, and because she wanted to give him the opportunity to build up his gumption and propose to her.

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Russell Hehn

Russell Hehn

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Russell Hehn is a teacher and landscaper in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Some of his other work can be seen in Barcelona Review, Interrobang?! and Pindeldyboz.