And we're in the bay, strolling on the boardwalk that juts into the bay, the haphazard jumble of townhouses and shabby greenspace and rusted wharf buildings that overhang the bay barely giving us a glance. A disinterested late summer afternoon.
The water below us is clear, hubcap-sized starfish the colour of aubergines and mandarins splayed on dark rocks.
"There was never a moment when I believed it," you say. "But never mind, tell me something kind."
I've forgotten what we were talking about, although I love the rhythmic husk of your voice and its easy rhymes. To our left a statue of a dancer, or perhaps a yogi in one of the warrior asanas, seems to move. From the corner of my eye I see you blink, distracted. A herring gull literally screams. Loneliness steals in like a silent comet through Neptune's frigid orbit. The quiet of the air is like the sudden removal of the air and we stare at each other, contemplating panic.
Did you know elephants cry salt tears? That life is so tenacious that there are electric bacteria that eat electrons? That tigers cannot purr? That sleeping on your stomach is more likely to make you dream of sex? That there are more stars in the known universe than all the grains of sand on every beach on earth? That there is a town named Okay, OK?
"I can't breathe," I say.
Your eyes are huge. Galactic centres. Amoebas. Your terror of tsunamis, I think, randomly, is almost phobic. Suddenly, more than anything else, I want to love you.
Then there's the roar. Local airport, I think, has to be. It's a plane taking off; sometimes they catch the air currents in such a way that it sounds like the coming apocalypse, and with this head-on angle appear like rockets seeking to escape the grip of this teeming globe.
But all the other baywalkers and tourists, weedlovers and West Coast saunterers, they've all stopped in their tracks while the roar only roars more, howls more, filling up the whole dome of the world that used to have air, and we follow everyone's gaze northward. No airplane with rocket dreams. No, we see the roiling infected stems and boiled brain heads of three mushroom clouds where presumably Vancouver once stood, that new-ruined jewel, that universe of memories, that charnel city calling me blindly home while moaning its futile requiem.
Still not able to speak—for what is left to speak about?—we embrace, look out upon the water, read each other's thoughts, and together climb the railing. O starfish. I hope you're okay with unexpected company and more salt tears.