the childless ones

this morning, fresh late-summer light pours into the windows of our new place. outside, everything is shades of blue. the sky is powder, the water unbroken and gunmetal, the mountains indigo. jude and i yawn and stretch and blink into this paradise. we munch on our peasant bread and scratch at our itches and sniff the morning air (which has fall, i hate to say it, on its breath.) then we stop, and we look, and we see: there are two strange people sitting on our dock. a man, and a woman.

we return inside and on the couch, chomping our bread and lip-smacking hummus, consider the fact of our sudden neighbors. jude says, “maybe they canoed here and maybe they don’t have a place to live and so they need to stay on our dock for a place and we should let them. right daddy? that way we allll share.” i kiss his creamy face and tell him that it’s a good idea. still, i twist on the couch and look over my shoulder, out the window, beyond the porch at the dock, grimacing at the interlopers.

i stand up and go out onto the porch. i don’t have any reason to be out there, i just want my presence to be known. so i bang out through the main door and the screen door and of course they look. a couple in their forties, maybe; he’s caucasian, she’s asian, both of them wearing these kinds of NASCAR sunglasses. he’s got a fishing pole. they both throw me tentative smiles. “morning,” they say. “morning,” i say, with a hint of irony in my voice, my eyebrow raised. lucky for me there’s an old pair of jude’s underwear sitting on a chair on the porch, so i grab it up and shuffle back inside. (there’s always an old pair of jude’s underwear laying around when you need it.)

after we finish our breakfast, jude asks if he can play on the porch and i say yes. i’m also thinking it’ll be good for the folks on the dock. jude is very personable and sure to strike up a conversation with them. but after a few minutes i come back to check on him and he’s crawling around on the railings and there seems to have been no contact made. in fact, the man and woman are now getting up from the chairs on the dock and preparing to leave. and then, each of them, not in unison, but on their own, glance up towards jude, me, the house. they appear to scowl. to disapprove. maybe it’s the sun, i think, but the sun is behind them, and they’re wearing those ridiculous sunglasses. where did they wander in from? despite jude’s theory, there’s no aquatic craft with them. did they come over from next door? there’s a place there where people rent kayaks and paddleboats. but there’s a hedge in between here and there. the only other way to our dock is to come through the building from the street behind us, past the laundry room and shed. did they really find their way down from streetside? i don’t know. all i know is that the man is reeling in his fishing line and grabbing up his soda bottle and they both of them have just given us…a dirty look. as if WE are the interlopers, spoiling their quaint morning. and perhaps we are.

i pull jude inside and we return to morning things. i don’t watch how they leave, which would likely be how they came. i don’t think of this until afterwards, that i made it a point not to know. but those looks – those looks tell me stories. those looks tell me that the only way they could have resisted jude’s charms is that they are childless. a childless couple. those couples you see that are still kind of just big children. but, of course, such a conclusion is judgmental and stupid. they could have ten kids for all i know, and are here for a child-free getaway. or maybe ‘kids’ has nothing to do with it. maybe they’re arguing. maybe they’re fresh in love, and not yet in decent control of their bodies or expressions. maybe they are aliens, just landed and trying to fit in. maybe, like jude says, they just came in from somewhere with no home, and they needed a place, and we needed to share. whatever their origin or purpose, they’re gone now, and it’s just us and the water softly lapping against the dock, and the many shades of blue in the air, and that cool morning breeze with just the taste of autumn on its tongue.

jude and i decide that for today, we’re going to go find someone else’s dock, and sit on it, and see what happens.


1 Comment

  1. turned out they were two cops, staying in the apartment upstairs, illegally subletting it for a week from the renter, who doesn’t even have a lease. when i went to show a friend the other apartment upstairs, i found the door to the whole floor locked. the childless couple, the asian woman and caucasian man, came to the door, with guns. true story.


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