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We’re playing cards.
I love the feeling of the paper against my hands, the smooth wood of the chair against my back, the creaky floorboards beneath my feet. It’s not my cottage, but it feels like home.
There’s never a shortage of softly playing rock music, old stories, or laughter. They’re calm, they’re together, they’re living.
It’s raining out; winds rage and thunder booms.
High, low, jack, and game.
I smell like sunscreen, like I always do when I come here. Every August it always seems like its scent, similar to that of silky, smooth, warm dusk has become embedded into my skin.
They’re the opposite of me. Tanned skin, black hair. Witty but not outrageous. Always calm, always knowing what to do. I think I’d want to be them, if it didn’t mean I might not appreciate them the same exact way that I do now.
I take a moment between card games, and look around the small, cramped back room. There are two couches covered in green, red, and white plaid fabric, which I love. Plaques displaying the names of old boats are nailed up against the bare wooden walls. Behind me, I know, are flags from all different countries: Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, hanging from a string above an indoor window that overlooks their cozy kitchen. The cottage is one floor, and strictly adorable. It’s a home away from my home away from home.
There’s an omnipresent smell of the ocean, and the comforting aroma of hot coals burning down to ashes. There’s a rhythm about that place not unlike the tides, waves crashing in and then drifting out. I swear I could live there without complaint, doing the same old thing every day. I’d never get bored, just like I’m not bored now, even in the midst of what seems like our three thousandth game of Pitch.
Bob Dylan croons in the background, the sounds of harmonicas mixing with the sounds of the outside world. I’m glad we’re tucked away into their warm, dry cottage.
Their father tells me another story of a kid on his son’s sailing team as I deal out cards, three at a time. I laugh and laugh, a smile never leaving my lips.
I’m in such a good mood until the front door bangs open, and in walks a storm to rival the one outside. She glares at us, brother and friend, unforgiving, and with a flick of her wrist, shuts us out. The door slam has a ring of finality to it that I can’t ignore.
It’s like the life has been drained out of the room; the warm and friendly feeling replaced by an unshakeable cold. I suddenly feel as if I have overstayed my welcome.
Armed with my confusion, and their blue and white umbrella, I considered my options. I’d either be hit by a furious storm, or by a Fury.
My smile, which at this point, seems permanent, fades when I realize I’d rather face the rain.