Not a Brooklyn Morning

The house stood like a deck of cards. And it swayed. Just ever so lightly, the wind wobbled its frame, barely planted in the sandy grass. Yet it stood, as it had for a sweep of decades. It was small—just a few rooms dispersed over two stories of drywall and wooden beams. And where the salty Carolina air hadn’t stalked, the smell of mildew lingered.  

Loretta leaned the hammock forward so that her feet could touch the porch floor. She stood and walked to the railing, looking up and down the road and then out to the water. Her house was the only house that offered a panorama of the marshes and estuaries of South Carolina’s coast, and through the sea pines, she could see the town’s main road and the houses scattered along the waterway. 

The screened door slammed behind her. She had gone inside to prepare a bowl of oatmeal and a cup coffee, which she carried back out to the porch on a tin tray and set down on the table in the corner opposite the hammock. She sat and ate her breakfast, reading the paper and watching the tide recede as the sun grew.

Sometimes it all comes down to collars.

He was wearing a black turtleneck that was too short at the waist, but the way the collar crawled up the back of his neck and bunched right under his hairline was perfect. The girl sitting across from him was wearing almost the same thing, but the collar of her sweater scooped more. They smiled at each other above their collars.  Their giggles got trapped in the ribbing. When the restaurant got drafty, they pulled their collars up around their chins at the same time. And then they tugged them down in synchronized form.  Then they left.

I saw the collar couple a week later, this time on the subway. They weren’t wearing their sweaters.  But they both had big furry mittens on. I couldn’t stop watching the blunt movements of their hands. One mitten resting on another, or one mitten brushing the face of the other mitten-wearer, or, and this was really shocking, one mitten trying to get a speck of something out of the other mitten-wearer’s hair.  Maybe what it really comes down to is hair.