Earth and ether commingle in Mitchell Grabois’ brief, beautiful story. “Scallops.”
In the old schoolhouse in which I live, the ghosts of farm children wake me with their rambunctiousness. I make guttural noises in my throat and believe I am speaking to them through the ether, in Hebrew, and that they understand me. I ask them to let me sleep for a couple more hours before I have to go to work in the mill.
These children became adults. Many farmed, others went off to towns and cities, became mathematicians, shoe salesmen, carpenters’ wives. Now they’re all gone, into Madame Voslowski’s jumbled universe.
You’re now also in that universe. A steel girder, cantilevered off a jackknifed tractor trailer, tore the roof off your car when your husband, unseeing, drove into it at highway speed.
I remember you with scallops, with their rings of blue eyes, comically snapping themselves through the waters of St. Joseph Bay. They could not escape our hands, nets, cooler, knives, pan, palates.
With the canoe streaming out yellow behind us, waist deep in the water, we pulled some open. We felt them resist with all their life, then, in one spilt-second, their guts, their muscles were exposed. Yellow snapper swarmed around us, in a moment tearing all flesh from shells, the shells from our hands.
We snorkeled shoulder to shoulder over endless beds of sea grass, then turned mask to mask. In friendship so much is undefined that when death takes you, I am not sure what is gone, what exactly I’ve lost. I want to call you to ask you about the rumor of your nonexistence.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over six hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.