I spoke too soon. Andy’s face turned into a pear, ripe and ready to fall off the tree. Somewhere in the distance, I felt a smack; the ocean’s insistence that I stay alert, or perish. My mouth opened, but nothing appeared. Andy turned away. The whir of the ceiling fan above suddenly sharpened. For a moment, I was back in grade school, stuttering in response to Mr. Kivlehan’s question. How I hated that man. Science was never the same after him. I thought about saying I was sorry, but knew better than to force it. In the ocean, life lives by water. On land, life lives by air. Somewhere along the way, I had gotten those two truths confused, and for decades, I was prone to choking. But now, I simply took a deep breath and waited.
Outside, the sun began to set. As I took a step towards the door, the color of Andy’s hair turned from brown to red, and I heard the words “thank you for coming” appear and then disappear. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I know you are,” said Andy.
The early evening air rattled coldly in my lungs. If only I hadn’t, I thought to myself, as my eyes filled with stars. Somewhere in the distance, I saw Andy shuffling papers around, preparing for another interview. The ceiling fan was off now, the office curtains open, letting in the newly-risen moonlight. In a few days, it will be all over, I thought to myself. The lock clicked into place, and I knew – I was home.
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