try to remember - the wrecks
[no content warnings apply]
The sea salt is thick in the air; Alice can damn near taste it. Was the ocean always so loud? So close? Waves crashing, one after the other, an endless barrage against the shore. Alice feels like the shore, in this scenario.
It’s only been a few months since her last visit to the dilapidated cottage, yet she finds herself struggling to remember anything aside from the echoing laughter in the kitchen, TV turned on low, an arm slung over her shoulder, hands curled around her waist, lips, skin, body against hers. Even the formerly radiant Tiffany blue of the porch is only a dull robin’s egg in the midmorning light.
Alice takes a deep breath. Steels herself. Digs the key out from the dying plant perched next to the porch swing. Someone’s brought the cushions in since her previous visit, Alice notes. Preparing to weather the winter, no doubt. She lets herself in, as she’s always done.
Stepping over the threshold is like stepping into a time capsule. Alice feels transported decades into the past, as if their nights in this place were a mere moment in history, a forgettable sentence in a textbook. If she inhales deeply enough, she can almost get past the ancient furniture, the dust collection on the mantle, the breeze off the water snaking in through the open door. The lingering scent of too expensive perfume permeates every corner. Alice doesn’t think she’ll ever escape it. Sometimes it infiltrates her dreams.
Everything is in its place. As per usual. Never a blanket left unfolded, a chair not pushed in, a remote outside of its designated basket. In the years Alice spent in this house, this home, the childhood she dedicated to the backyard and the adulthood she dedicated to its caretaker, she’s never once left a trace. Not one ounce of proof that life exists within these walls. Even her belongings, the ones she’s left over a decades-long tryst, are packaged up in a neat little box, tucked away in the closet. Fitting. Alice supposes that perhaps she should’ve seen the signs.
She can’t bring herself to stay longer. This is not the first time she’s been in the cottage alone, but, standing in the living room, she feels like a stranger. Like she’s not only trespassing on the property, but on the memories, too. What right does she have to reflect on the time spent on this couch, in front of this fireplace, nestled in these pillows, in a place she can no longer call home?