Liquid

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A liquid takes the shape of its container.

*

It was raining on my first day in Scotland. Inside the pound store a leak in the ceiling dripped into a pink bucket on the counter. After I purchased my cheap eating utensils and towels and notebooks and turned to leave, you tapped me on the shoulder: Oh my god, are you American? I smiled and asked what gave it away. Your Scottish accent was guttural.

*

Calm clear water and an unusually hot September sun. The whole boat ride we waited and waited for a long neck to pop out of the water, but the smooth surface remained unbroken. Later, as we boarded the bus, our guide said with a chuckle Keep Nessie in your hearts and you replied loudly Amen! and I cried with laughter.

*

You were great on the trumpet but your spit got fricking everywhere. On my request you played Rolling in the Deep and I had to scoot away to avoid wet flecks splattering all over me. Afterwards I said I enjoyed Adele and you said she was alright but you thought she had a crude accent.

*

Gin and ginger ale was always my chosen drink. At first, you laughed at me for ordering that in the pub. But then you came to love it and soon every time we went out you said to the bartender I’ll have the same as the American.

*

Rust and Bone brought me to tears and as the end credits played I just sat there and reflected. You said you never cried during movies. You also said you never felt moved by Marion Cotillard. I promised myself to never see another movie with you.

*

We were drunk on the beach and talking about aliens and how we both wanted to visit Roswell someday. There was a nearby splash and I screamed as something hauled itself up onto the beach. You said it was a seal, but maybe I should have looked closer at the dark glistening creature next to us.

*

I slipped on a wet stone and nearly tumbled off the castle wall. The two words that involuntarily popped out of my mouth were not again and you were laughing and you asked me if I came close to death a lot in America. I said No, only in Scotland.

*

The city was still lit up with red and green lights on New Year’s Eve. We sat on a bridge over a slushy river and you talked for two hours about your love of my country. What was 9/11 like? you asked excitedly. What are your thoughts on Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close? Did you vote for Obama? Have you ever been to LA? You kept interrupting my answers and rattling off your own detailed perspectives on America, so I just stopped talking and stared down into the dark river below.

*

You made a new American friend. She’s from Chicago! you yelled. I accompanied you to one of her swimming matches, and as the black-suited swimmers glided through the water I chuckled and brought up the encounter with the seal on the beach. You just kept talking about Chicago.

*

It was raining on my last day. I’ll have to come visit America you said with shining eyes. And then you asked What state do you live in again? and in that moment the concrete cloud that had been threatening to materialize between us finally did so. It doesn’t matter I said. You smiled and said Yeah, we can meet up in New York! and then we hugged goodbye and I walked out into the rain.

*

On the plane ride home I spilled my cup of ginger ale all over my lap. I patted my jeans with napkins and waited for the residual moisture to evaporate, like all liquids eventually do.

 

 

Contributor

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David Landy

David Landy is currently pursuing his MFA in creative writing at Hamline University. His interests include movies and books and musicals.

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