Lethe’s Shore

To Lethe’s shore he came with raft in hand, and he stood upon the grey sand, watching the waters as they drug things past—things that rolled over and disappeared. Tumbling mementos. Things like the box of letters; things like the unfinished photo album: things that bobbed and others that sank. Things like the personal check for ten dollars, smuggled, without his knowing, back to Seattle. “For Sex!” it said on the memo line—her name, civilized, in the upper left-hand corner, and his name, a rowdy scrawl in block letters beneath. He found it in the pocket of a folded pair of blue jeans. The check was a single-minded tiny flying carpet, there on the river. It was from the week he spent with her—the trip down before he took the plunge. A week spent in bed. They went outside for fresh air—to a nightclub that let guests smoke on the patio. Her friends came by their table. But no one disturbed them at the apartment. Could the two of them have heard? The mutinous tremor of their own voices that rose from out of the quicksand of her bed: pleading with one another in the aching seconds before. Sleeping to wake and repeat. He remembered something from the photo album: it was a picture of her. She was wearing his red boxer shorts and his white undershirt. Short red-brown hair stuck to her forehead. He wasn’t supposed to show it to anyone. He never got the chance. The rectangular, unendorsed slip of paper slid over a rock and was gone. The photo album was already gone. A tiny box floated by, rotating in the water. Then it sank, a few inches of ribbon sinking behind it.

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