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Hops. Stars. Coffee beans.

The puppy woke up at 3:30 am.  We went to the backyard.  She ran. Squatted.  I stood still.  It wasn’t brisk.  I expected cold, but a stillness greeted me.  It frightened me.

My quiet French companion and I went to a pub to escape the freezing, yet comforting air of Iceland.  You had to keep moving to stay comfortable.  This I understood.   The pub was confident  and eclectic, being designed after the small, personality splattered country it was in.  Another man joined us.  He wore a warm, knit sweater.  Blue and White.

He said he would never wear it back home in Germany.

His eyes were slightly magnified by the glasses he wore and his lisp and quirkiness made me smile.  He was kind.  He spoke easily.  I appreciated him for that.

We drank good beer and got warm inside and out.  There was not a chair left in the room.  I let the boys talk while I listened to the music.  They sang of friendships.  Real friendships. Friendships made out of love, rather than circumstance.  Slightly drunk, I cried.  The man in the knit sweater asked me what was wrong.  I smiled trying to look casual.  Trying to make it seem like crying was standard in between beers in a pub in Iceland.  I convinced him.  He continued talking to Adrien.

Her eyes were outlined in dark, thick eyeliner.  It was obvious she was significantly older than us. The age difference did not stop her from flirting with Adrien.  Happy hour gave her courage.  She was loud.  She was a famous graphic designer in Iceland.  She designed the image of the smiley face on WOW Air.    We all wondered how such a simple image could make her famous.

She took my hand.  She forced it closed.  Opened.  Forced it closed.  Opened.

“You need to be careful about the next job you choose.”  She told me, slightly slurring her words together.  “It will be the one you keep.”

I giggled.  She made me nervous.

She continued, “You will also lose two children in your lifetime.”  She almost looked satisfied, as though she enjoyed smashing the dreams of others.  She smiled smugly.  I took my hand away.

She said, “I’m sorry, honey.”  She walked away unsteadily.

The puppy continued looking for the perfect spot to squat for the last time.  I looked up.  The sky was framed by the homes and trees surrounding me, but the jagged edged black picture had many lights. The moon was full.  I could see everything.  I could hear nothing.  Along with the stillness there was silence.  This felt haunting.  It was, just for a second, beautiful.

The perfectly arched eyebrows, her freckles, her voice, her button nose.  She was familiar.  I went to high school with her.  She was drinking coffee with her legs crossed, talking to others I recognized from school.  I sat down in a couch across the room from her.  They spoke.  Naturally, I listened.  Medical school.  Husbands.  Infants. I stopped listening.  I concentrated on the woman snoring in the rocking chair across from me.

I sipped on my black coffee and began reading my book about a man who sells autographs to people.

The puppy quickly ran back inside the house as though, she too, was afraid of the stillness.  I followed and went back to sleep. I dreamt vividly that night.


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