Map of the Universe


It was cool under the boardwalk. The logs were damp, constantly hammered by the spray. Crabs sauntered sideways over sea shells. The waves traveled out to the top of the world, to some unknown ice cap, latitude: zero degrees.

Alli was far away from any ice floes. In preparation for the end of the day, the sun had braised the sky a dull goldenrod.

Nealy sat beside her, under the beams. Her arms were tan, after spending an entire day at the beach, surfing and eating mangoes. “What are you going to do after graduation?” she asked.

“Go to college?” Alli said.

“No gap year?”

“For my parents, that is not an option,” Alli laughed.

Nealy turned her face back to the sun, “I’m going to backpack across southeast Asia and then I’m going to start working”

Alli leaned forward, hugging her knees, “So it’s been finalized then?”

“Yes, I’m going to Peary.”

Alli was silent. She looked down at her knees and then also looked in the direction of the sunset.

Music drifted down the shore. The bonfire was raging, spraying sparks heavenward. Seniors ran around the logs and did the limbo.

Under the boardwalk grew darker. “You’ll come back and visit, won’t you?” Alli wondered, half to the first stars, shimmering on the horizon.

Nealy turned her head in Alli’s direction. It was like a lion’s, with tufts of red hair going in a multitude of directions, “Of course!”

Alli reached across and cupped Nealy’s face in her hands. As usual, Nealy’s face was soft, with whiskers on her cheeks and downy sideburns.

Hundreds of miles away, at the equator, any given point on earth, whether tree or mountain or shadow, was moving, spinning, faster than the speed of sound.

worried Zora drummer