Jakob Pichler cherishes his quiet mornings and the green stillness of his garden. His neighbors have gone off to their day jobs, leaving him in peace. The only traffic that passes the garden gate is the occasional old woman walking a tiny dog. Jakob lights his morning cigar, settles back, and lets his mind wander over the infinite possibilities the morning offers.
His name was Amos Clark, 75 years old if a day, and on one of those days at the little decrepit house where the dowser used to live, this kind-looking man with a beard came carrying all he owned on an A-frame on his back. He set his A-frame on the ground and looked at the small house needing much work on the outside and quickly imagined what the inside of the house looked like. Old muscles, in a twist of memory, began to move under his shirt.
Steam played across the water’s surface in lazy swirls, nudged by the breeze and stretching away like cigarette smoke. Behind the hedge, lips pressed to her kneecap’s polished, taut surface, she could taste salt on her skin and, somehow, it mingled with the vision of dragon’s breath steam above luminous water to punch a sudden ache in her throat. Smelling chlorine, she longed for the sea, for sand that grew cool as she dug her feet deeper, and her father’s hand on her bony, eight-year-old spine, walking her towards a quiet tideline.