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Success Near Water

January 4, 2009

The day Skip broke Lily’s heart, a storm pounded the city. They exchanged tears and watched water slap the windowpanes. Slept fitfully when they slept at all, clammy beneath the sheets, careful not to touch fingers, feet, knees. Skip snored; Lily counted “lasts”, each breath drawing her closer to daybreak and the moment when she would step into the first day of an unexpected life.


In the morning, Skip rustles up orange juice and fresh towels while Lily shivers beneath a dribble of hot water, hoping to shower away the sweaty, sad night. Instead, the steam opens her pores and the ache wicks through her skin, pooling a few layers deep. Lily rakes her hair with damp fingers, brushes her teeth, sips orange juice then wrinkles her nose–wrong order of operations.

Lily tugs on her jeans, sits down to pull up her socks, plunks herself in a puddle left by her wet feet. A soggy spot blooms across her seat. She spreads her pyjamas on the bathroom floor, deposits her sleepover soap, lotion, cotton puffs, purple eyeshadow on top. Bundles everything into a cotton burrito, crams it into the trash. Skip doesn’t understand, thinks she is hasty, hurtful, conjuring surplus drama where already there is plenty.

Lily explains there are things she cannot do. For instance, carrying home a shopping bag of overnight supplies, integrating the contents into her home, sprucing up her place with totems of heartbreak.

Skip looks hurt in a way Lily has never seen. She considers his attachment to physical evidence, to solid, stubborn things. How Skip uses the material world as his constant, objects serving as anchors while he bobs and pitches free from human bonds. This tendency is something she has long admired, although now she’s become its casualty. Lily has good sense, knows she can recover from all things–this thing, too–but for now feels small and silly. A necessary but unwilling sacrifice.


That night, alone, Lily tosses while the storm continues to rattle her home. She believes she lies completely sleepless but slips under once or twice, slumber translating real rain and wind into a dream of birds smashing into windows, the storm dashing their beaks against the glass.

By morning, the weather has settled but the streets are flooded channels. Lily dresses, breathes, chooses dark glasses to conceal her damp eyes. Cuts a path through fog and slush to have her fortune told. It’s the perfect day for a life forecast, her friend insists, Lily must go! For a woman in her position, it’s plainly the right thing to do.


The cards are clear: Lily should trust her gut; critically evaluate advice; work hard and stay tough. Broad recommendations easily mapped onto any circumstances. But wait, there’s one more thing: Lily will find success near water. Water? Water. Bodies of water, liquid precipitation. Water solid like ice, flowing like a brook, still as a lake, ephemeral as puffs of snow. Lily should be on the lookout for water and the opportunities it might bring.

Lily wonders if this includes any old water, or if she’s waiting for a very particular sign.

The break-up storm is too obvious–a clumsy metaphor, a poem scribbled in a spiral notebook and shoved in a girl’s locker. Lily’s tears as a wellspring, a cleansing flood? Too superficial, and not really successful at much beyond making her cheeks smart from all that salt. The bathroom puddle in which she sat, the boggy streets through which she waded, the fluid between her cells, the steam from her shower, the pond in her backyard, the ocean over which Skip will soon jet, leaving her in his wake?

Lily folds her hands, drops them into her lap. Looks to the fortune teller, who has gathered and restacked the cards, chopping the deck against the table to form a tight block. Water. Lily will have to think about that one. Unlike the tarot cards, the meaning of water is not yet clear.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. looka permalink
    January 5, 2009 9:24 am



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