Second-place winner from the 2014 Quebec Writing Competition.
After driving a long time, we got out: Mom, Dad, me, my brother Dave. We got to the room. Dad took his clothes out. Dave took his stuff, too, but it was only a lot of books. He put them on his side of the white table between the beds and Dad told him not to be messy. He didn’t look at Dad. He put half of them back in his bag. He carried the rest in his arms. We went looking at the beach. And because it was high you had to climb down and I knew it, and I knew I could do it, but Dad didn’t want me to because he said you are this high and that place is that high. He was looking at the place where the waves were. Dave was looking at the beach. When we left he stayed. I think he even might’ve went down the way I wasn’t allowed to and that doesn’t even make sense because Dave, he’s afraid of heights in the first place and I would’ve been happier about it. Dad said Marina, you have a pointy nose. And I said, no I don’t, because I didn’t, but then he closed his fingers and squeezed it and then it really did feel pointy. It felt really pointy and it was so funny.
Dad said tomorrow we’ll go fishing because he was beside the place we were going to make a fire in to cook the fish. And Mom said take Dave with you. It was nighttime but it was still hot because Dad says the heat stays in the water. And then I looked down and imagined water that was fire too and I think the moon makes the waves look like fire sometimes. The air around us was hot and the air that the waves pushed over was hot like some big dragon was breathing and Dad took his shirt off and he kept his hat on like it was still daytime with the hair on his arms and the veins on top of his hands. Dave, he also has veins, but he never takes his shirt off even when it’s hot. Even I took my shirt off even if I’m not supposed to because I’m a lady. And me and Dad were on our knees in the rocks tying up the little hooks. And I was looking up and Dave was looking at us. Dad taught me how to tie it but I forgot but that’s okay because Dad still remembers. Then we started and each got a turn. I threw my line first because I’m the youngest but nothing happened. The fire from the water sprayed in my hair and I thought I got something but when I reeled it there was nothing. Then Dad tried and got nothing also. But one time he reeled in a necklace made of seaweed and that’s not nothing. He tried again and his face was wet. He took off his hat and put it in his legs. Then Dave tried but Dad had to force him because he didn’t want to and the line went really far and I really laughed. He left it a long time in the water and he was trying and Dad laughed and said well, look at you, you didn’t even want to try before. Dave looked at him and the moon bubbled off the side of his face into the rocks underneath and I could see because the waves went out and they came back over the rocks again and nothing was fire anymore except the feeling. Dave’s line was shaking. Dad helped Dave reel it in but Dave was already reeling and the waves pushed his line up in the air. We saw the fish—it was big—and we saw it was bright like the moon can’t even be and its body jiggling like inside a body. And I jumped up and clapped and Dad pulled it up and lifted the fish so we could see its big wide eyes and see how it opened and closed its mouth like me when I get caught. Then Dad pulled it up and I saw Dave looking at it and the black markings on its back like writing and we laid it in the rocks and it stopped. Dave went away. Dad picked it up by the head and put it in a bag but how do you know if it’s blood?
Later, Dad said, he said we should make a fire, but I couldn’t find any sticks, and Dad said okay you can go to the beach and look and I was happy but when I went down I had to use the stairs because Dad still didn’t want me to go down with my feet. When I got down it was cold and full of wet and the water was windy; the air was in the water talking. If I listened very hard I was hearing a voice singing I don’t know where. I found one stick but the voice was getting louder than me listening. I took the stick and pretended a rock was a drum. I made noise in the ground and I walked looking up because it makes sense. But there was nothing and I brought my head down and while I was going I saw Dave walking around with sand that was wet on his bum and when I saw him he saw me and I stopped hearing the singing. He was looking at me with his mouth all open and no voice and my face was making a face or it was smiling but I don’t really know what I did and Dave started to wave his arms and he screamed at me really loud to go away but I went back from the rock and I fell because he was still screaming and I got up but got scared and my knee was hurting and I was crying but I didn’t think he was singing badly. Maybe I shouldn’t’ve smiled.
I was outside and it was dark and it was like there wasn’t any day. I heard them yelling—it wasn’t loud like the water when it’s loud or like the fire when it’s loud, it was like when you’re in the water and you’re moving and your skin makes a little noise by moving and it’s loud because it’s you hearing you. And Dad was yelling you have no reason, and Dave said it’s easy for you to say. You’re happy and have a wife and you have kids and Dad said what are you even talking about. I don’t even know what you’re talking about, just cut it out, you’re scaring your sister, but I wasn’t scared except it was dark.
Dad came up to me and there was light in the door and he said, Marina, don’t bug David anymore. He’s in a bad mood. And I knew Dave could hear because I could hear when he was talking to Dad. I didn’t say anything. Dad hugged me he said Marina. Marina. You have a pointy nose.