Rhienna Renèe Guedry
Horizon to Horizon
“Tomorrow’s my day off, I’ve got something to show you,” she told Sam. “A two-part surprise,” though she knew it was three: the sunrise, the sunset, and their last goodbye. She wrapped four egg salad sandwiches in wax paper.
The next morning before dawn, she flipped all the house lights on. Rise and shine, baby.
Sam rubbed his eyes with his small fists, nodded his head and got his body moving slowly, the veil between the dreaming and the real world narrowing. It was still dark out. There was a buzz of night insects finishing up their shift before the birds of dawn took over. She folded Sam into the front seat, set up with his tumbler full of cheesy grits and a spoon. He ate slowly while the radio station gave the weather forecast. Clear skies. High of eighty-four. Thunderstorms tomorrow.
As they arrived at the New Smyrna dunes, she killed the engine, her eyes stained with orbs from the residue of headlights searching in the dark.
“Baby, look. We made it.”
At first, everything was a shade of navy: the sky, the sea, the high grass that she knew to be there, even the footbridge itself. They set up a blanket and sat and watched cotton pepper the sky, that maddening shade of blue. The Atlantic.
“Isn’t Florida the most beautiful place on earth?” she said. “We’re lucky. To look at this landscape, day after day.”
Together they sat, naming the things that went by. She took her time. Each passing hour of the day was closer to the close of it. Sam pointed out two sailboats on the horizon. They counted tiny crabs, then seagulls, then old men walking alone. The sun moved across the sky, shouted down. When it was time to move on, they tip-toed back across hot, white sand, and clapped each sandal once or twice against the hubcap before getting in.
She drove on, a meandering zig-zag. They stretched their legs at a citrus stand that handed out samples of orange juice in tiny paper cups. Stopped again for ice cream at Twistee Treat, the building shaped like what it sold. An hour spent beneath a rest stop weeping willow, feeding bread crusts to squirrels.
When they finally arrived at the Gulf of Mexico, Sam was tired but curious, like staying awake for a glimpse of Santa on Christmas Eve. They ate their second sandwiches together on their second coast.
“The sun rises in the east, sets in the west. We saw sunrise and sunset on the same day because we followed the sun.”
“Do other people do this?”
“Just weirdos like us, I guess.”
The colors were moving quicker by night, pushing a kaleidoscope over the water. She put her arm around Sam. She knew he wouldn’t understand in the morning that she was gone, but she hoped he would learn to. His wildness was the same as hers. They started the day chasing the sun, but she just had to keep at it.
Amorette walked through the front door with her phone’s speaker still blaring “Here You Come Again” from the drive home—Dolly Parton’s pipes practically burning a hole through her back pocket. Just when I’d begun to get myself together. Well, not quite; her house was a disaster, and it smelled like whatever she cooked this morning, not that Amorette couldn’t even tell you what that was anymore. Time was all blending together; it was non-stop. Watching the news then turning it off, sometimes just sitting there staring at a blank television screen for a treasured five minutes of stillness. Amorette had been picking up extra shifts, busy bee that she was, working doubles at the deli covering for her coworkers. There were a few—all as broke as she was—so she knew each and every one of them ought to have their reasons for calling out. One of the regulars joked about “foul play” ‘cause he’d watched too many crime shows, but really, everybody was just dead tired. And working that much meant Amorette’s feet ached somethin’ fierce. Her readiest-available medicine was the handle of Jack Daniels’ Tennessee Honey whiskey she bought for the neighbor’s BBQ, figuring it’d taste alright between smoked ribs and Bud Light beer-backs. The party got rained out due to a tropical storm, so, waste not want not. Here she was: forty, ankles wide as fence posts, joints hot to the touch, getting used to living alone for the second time. The honey whiskey wasn’t unlike the moment in time Amorette found herself surviving: palatably sweet upon first swig, but with a bitterness that burned the back of the throat swiftly after. You had to keep taking sips and let the two battle one another until one of ‘em finally wins; Amorette’s money was always on the sweet.