Friday, July 9, 2010

The 4th by Zodiac

Under the weight of my husband’s body, the back end of the tiny zodiac dips nearly even with the water’s surface as he uses his arms to paddle the boat back towards the shore so he can retrieve me from the river house where ten minutes earlier he and the kids had effectively ditched me to “check on the fireworks.” After 11 years of marriage, my husband aspires to keep me in the loop, so he kindly thought to call me on his cell while he and the kids were drifting towards the Monte Rio bridge.

“Could you come back for me?!” I’d said, washing the last of our dinner dishes with great grandma and grandma flanking me in the one-derriere kitchen. I in turn ditched the women, mumbling an apology, running full tilt past the sauna in the dark and down the patio steps, first the sand and then the obsidian river cool on my bare feet. From here, I can hear the voice of the announcer from the loudspeaker a quarter mile away on the beach, see the purple chem lights wreathing the heads of the crowd waiting for the night’s float parade contest.

“I don’t have the paddle,” my husband informs me as I step over his crotch to scoop up the four year old, sanding off the top layer of my skin against my daughter’s mud coated legs while she and her brother continue fighting in the prow. “Relax,” my husband’s already admonishing me, as we wend towards the carousing voices of a group of ten or so men sitting in lawn chairs on a dock below the Highland Dell.

In the dark, I feel cloaked but barely anonymous, and definitely not interested in accidentally entering the float’s line-up and the floodlights, which is exactly what my husband has in mind until I kill the fun, my sense of humor siphoned off under the four year old’s complaints about his life-vest, foam fronds stiffly pushing his thighs down and his chin skyward. “Relax,” my husband repeats from his full body sprawl behind me, his legs running down the length of the boat. My tailbone’s balanced on the back rind of the wooden seat and the din in the prow has not let up under the octopus of legs the five of us make. If I give in and lean back on my husband’s chest, we’ll be sitting in water, so I hover in place.

The voice at the mic is none other than the woman who certified us for lifesaving back when we were kids, my husband and I. The fire department’s curtain of water descends, and as usual, she’s announcing a last minute problem with the projector, and even when it is righted, the American flag displays backwards. “Honey,” I say to my husband, and mean it, “you’re the best Monte Rio has to offer.”

And with that, he obliges me, keeping us out in the very middle of the river. I’ve got my hands over my little son’s hands cupping his ears, and by the grand finale, the beauty of the nested, descending blooms of light silences us all, even the pair in the prow.


Jeannette said...

Heel Tanyia,
I like how this piece tips, fecund and family friendly, on the waters. Between washing dishes to wiping sandy captured much...a dynamic tension is created by the command to relax... each of the bodies has real weight and the need to attend and balance in the floating family niche is felt...the image of the craft on the water under the sky and you not wanting to be seen is full of irony because the reader sees the tableau so well...
You are creating a real "tales of west county anthology."

Tania Pryputniewicz said...

Thanks Jeannette...that's a nice idea, that the entries might be forming a whole at some point (heading towards a west county tapestry). Always good to hear from you.