Author:Milliken, Douglas W.
Position:SHORT FICTION - Short story

Growing up in another valley so far away as to be a different country--growing taller and growing leaner but somehow never wiser--between mountains the mining outfit was slowly carving up, slowly carting away, I can still see him: Daddy, coming home blue with stone dust each day, his wife hosing him off in the yard fully clothed, a slushy blue river unribboning from his hair, from his clothes, off his boots, and finally through the short brown grass where it at last could disappear underground. His wife would rinse and strip him down and only then was Daddy allowed inside. Showering with a beer parked on the sink's edge, the thorny earthworks of his hand parting the vinyl curtains, collapsing around the bottle, drawing it inside the steam. The same calloused hands folded in grace at the table, enveloped faintly in the steam from mashed potatoes and steak. The same hands covering his mouth while his body wracked, trying to drag breath deeply up from the bottom of a phlegmy smoker's cough. Only Daddy didn't smoke. Stone dust worked in un-mineable blue veins through the rough crags of his hands. I can still see Daddy coughing and Daddy in the yard beneath the cold rain of his wife's garden hose, framed by dissembling mountains that I hated to see dissembled--a constant reminder of everything wrong with people, with the world, with home--and all of sixteen and certain, so certain, I told my father he was pathetic.

Do not forget this.

Do not forget this, and don't forget too to hold this memory side by side with that time looking out over the ocean--not my first time but my first time after moving into Rebecca's spare room in her house of redwood and glass light-housing above those mutable blues, those fog-gauzed islands, those distant freighting lights--standing beside Rebecca on high blue cliffs plunging straight down because there were no beaches, this wasn't that kind of coast, and I acknowledged the impulse to say the waves were infinite though of course, they're finite, at any given moment there is an exact whole number of waves, a fleeting integer we can...

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