William L. Alton
The wind brings leaves and sand to the door. The equinox rushes toward us and we light a fire in the little box we use to cook the meat she steals from the grocery store. I haven’t smoked in days and my hands are a little shaky. My lungs cry black tears. The coming storm makes the air thick. The clouds hang like raw cotton. I close my eyes and let the rain wash my face, hard pellets of water sinking through the skin clear to the bone. I’m sick now. Sick and sore. I stand under white oaks and pine trees catching the fog rising from the ocean like hair twisted through a comb. She brings me a beer and a cigarette and I ease into the comfort of my habits. The world is good when there’s cash. I do without when there’s none. “You need to quit,” she says. “You’re killing yourself,” she says. She doesn’t want to be alone. She worries about strange men and cops. She worries without me, she’ll be left to rot in a gutter. I take her hand and kiss her wrist. She smiles. I’ll never leave her. I’ll walk with her through the rain to the stones riding the surf just off shore. We’ll stand together in the water and when the wind comes, we’ll rise up and touch the sun.