The Conversation

She sat on a white plastic wicker chair looking out over the tops of giant sequoias growing further down the hill. Because the marine layer was tormenting her, she couldn’t see the ocean through the trees, but could hear its roar and the barking sea lions, which tourists endangered their lives on cliff overhangs to glimpse.

They could have the sea lions, she thought. Not that she wished the animals ill, but had no need to visit their raucous stinking gathering spots. They seemed like a group of old college buddies, who’d all slept with each others’ girlfriends, finally marrying one of them and having regular reunions as they all got fat and settled into themselves and their lives.

She thought all of this as a way to avoid the conversation she could feel brewing, gathering energy like a circular wind over warm ocean waters. She felt its spin picking up speed, gathering first moisture and then bits of detritus and soon palm trees and fishing boats to hurl like toys in a temper tantrum.

Weighing her options, the energy swelled in her guts, making the spit in her mouth burn like acid. Unleashing a dragon’s hellfire was magnetic, but she pulled herself from the fight, releasing her hold on it one clenched finger at a time. One step back and she could look for an evacuation route or find another way.

Some time passed and the afternoon breeze shifted direction. The ocean began to come into view.