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11.05.2015


It Won’t Always Be Like This
SETH CLABOUGH

AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT YOU’D SAY when things were bad—before the move to this distant peninsula, before the Havilland Twin Otter flight, before the sky emptied its blue lungs in fatal gusts.

But there’s nothing new in loss, or in the way morning in Santa Teresa awakens first in the tops of the old pochotes, breaks free from the tines of playa trees to press its fiery stamp on village & shore.

I watch it lift into the heart of another day, a day so dry it crumbles underfoot, & it reminds me only of our nights at Villa Serena with laundry lifting on the line, Halloween crabs foraging among dead leaves, the whine of the hammock, the warmth of your bare breasts against my ribs.

You said once the Nicoya Peninsula had such wet stars. You called them by name like old lovers. I thought of your freckles as stars, as entire constellations but never said it. I wish I had.

Years have passed and this morning is as far from you as night from day—like it’s the other side of it, like it’s forever. Our Ruby loved watching the iguanas emerge to mount fallen logs, to bathe in shafts of renegade light.

She named the red-faced male Gustavo, and the woman who swept our villa said he could open up a leg with the whip of his tail. We shouldn’t trust what we feel, Ruby, what we see and hear, how the yigüirro’s call squeezes our hearts through its fingers, how the leaves are agitated by the loss of it all.

And I don’t mourn either of them anymore. I know they’re among the stars that love them, that they press their lips to them, that they burn brighter with their embrace. But I’ll still find, on occasion,

one of Ruby’s toys along the corners of the property and that flick of memory will open up my guts in the sand. And sometimes, when the sodas are closed, after Hector and Angelicia have left with a bag of empty Imperials,

I’ll glimpse my wife disappearing into the fragrant night or find at daybreak, cursive messages from her writ in the swash lines and know she’s behind it all, that she’s speaking to me, that she’s saying, It won’t always be like this, but I hope that’s not true. I know their loss is a presence I can’t do without.

Besides, tomorrow the edges of the sky will be bruised purple, & Gustavo will come to sun himself in a little pool of light. Breezes will come & go. We move on or don’t, seeking those little spaces we need to survive.

On this remote peninsula, you can evade the threat of moving on. Here, lost voices never grow silent. Here, you can wait for the evening & then see, once more, constellations of wet stars, which were gone & always there.





The 2015 Luminaire Award for Best Prose
NOTABLE MENTION

We are pleased to announce this story as a Notable Mention for The 2015 Luminaire Award for Best Prose, honoring the independent press’ best short stories and hybrid prose works of the year. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blind and selects the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final. This piece will appear in the forthcoming Poiesis Review #7, published by Alternating Current.




SETH CLABOUGH is a professor, former poetry editor with the James Dickey Review, and writer of published fiction, poetry, and scholarship, with recent work in London’s Litro Magazine, Fjords Review, Citron Review, Aesthetica: The Arts & Culture Magazine (UK), Magma Poetry (UK), The Chaffey Review, Sixers Review, New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, Oak Bend Review, Women’s Studies, and numerous other places. He won the London-based Fiction Prize, judged by the British Book Industry’s Literary Agent of the Year, Luigi Bonomi.

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