Gonna by Brady Huggett
At once the city’s countless, soaring buildings grew oppressive, and it seemed they mixed with the cobalt sky to press her down. In her apartment, on the train, sitting at her job, walking her small dog in the park – they were always above her, and their weight left her tired.
So tired it felt to her she might be dying. I have to get out of here, she thought. I have to get someplace more open, find some great expanse, where things can just float up and away. Then I might be able to do that, too.
She pulled out a map and traced her finger along a long flap of land, all the way to the end. Montauk. That’s where I should go, she thought. A place with nothing but water and the sky sweeping down to meet it.
She put her dog in a bag and went to the train terminal. I need a ticket to Montauk, she said, and when the attendant asked, One way or roundtrip? she had no ready answer. But then she realized that if Montauk uncapped the heavens, she wouldn’t want to come back. And if it didn’t, she’d probably die out there. So it didn’t matter; she bought the one-way ride.
On the empty March beach in front of the motel, she let the dog out of the bag without a leash. He hit the sand running and never stopped. Just a straight line, until she couldn’t see him anymore. She hadn’t thought he could run that fast or that far, this round little creature with short legs and poor respiration. But what did she know?
She stood, hopefully waiting, for what seemed like an hour but was probably more like five or six minutes, then turned and shuffled into the motel to register.
She lay on her back on the stiff bed in room 21. I can’t tell, she thought, if the air is any lighter here. I can’t decide if that is ocean spray I taste in my mouth, or blood.
At evening, she left the motel and found what she needed for her sleep: a liquor store. Inside, she put three small bottles of bourbon on the counter.
You know, I can sell you a pint for not much more, the man said. It would make good financial sense.
She shook her head. I can’t drink that much tonight, and I’m not sure I’ll be alive tomorrow. It might be wasted money.
He gave her a long look, but rang up her little bottles and put them in a small paper sack and took her money. She scuffled back out to the sidewalk, where dusk had turned everything gray as sea smoke.
There was a plastic glass in her room, and an ice machine by the front desk, so she sat with the curtains open and watched the waves and drank her bourbon until all light had leaked from the sky, until she couldn’t see the surf anymore, could only hear it out there, washing in and receding. There was no place to go and nothing to do and she hadn’t the strength to do it anyway. She moved to the bed and closed her eyes. The last thing she saw before dozing off was the image of her dog at a frenzied sprint down the beach, in full flight and not looking back even once.
She was awoken some time later by a rhythmic thumping, and at first she felt it was music – a bass line or some percussion – but realized that the room beyond her headboard was occupied, and the people were fucking. The rest of the motel was quiet, as was the night, so the people seemed very close in all that stillness. She could hear them breathing, hear the rustling of their sheets. She could hear their voices.
I want you to come, the woman said.
Yeah, I’m gonna, said the man.
He did, then, and she also heard that. How everything got quicker over there, his breathing, too, until he let out a yawp and things died away. She got up and found her shoes, then went out and carefully felt her way through the ink to the beach.
On the cold sand, she drew her knees up and encircled them with her arms. The wind coming in off the water went right through her. I wonder where my dog is, she thought. I wonder how much he weighs?
She put her head back and stared up at the sky. Cloudless: the wind had swept everything out to sea. Black up there, with a million stars like salt on dark velvet, like diamonds, and like every other way they’d ever been described. But also like semen, she thought, swimming away into the dark.
Yeah, I’m gonna, too, she thought. I’m gonna find a way up there.
© Brady Huggett, 2012
Brady Huggett lives in New York, was born in Kalamazoo but grew up mostly in New England. You can find out more about him at thehuggettfiles.blogspot.com.
Gonna was read by Amanda Renee Baker on 5th September 2012