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Geography is Wrong December 9, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in A Fiction, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Geography is wrong. The world has its edges. You first discover this in school, especially if you are a quiet or odd child. Forget Pythagoras. Whatever your teacher said about a circular world you begin to find its corners, in retreat or in escape. Definite rectangles. Less tangible than the globe in the corner but clearly there.

Later, older and out in the world, you discover its edges.

This one is beautiful, indefinite, a faint, prismatic progression from sky to sea blue. You wonder if it has a sound, water falling over the edge like the surf on the rocks below you but steadier, a sound like sunlight on the skin, bound to the edge like the sun to its circuit. I can no more hear it from here than I can sunbathe at midnight, but I can imagine it and for now, that is enough. This is a quiet corner like those you remember from childhood, perfectly suited to lapses into imagination. I have had enough of edges—the crumbling soft rock and plummeting air, the hard mathematical choices, knives like laughter—and prefer this one keeps its distance for now: remote, beautiful and available.

There are two ways down from this rolling hill. One leads through the scrub to a road that leads to a highway that leads to an airport where planes roar backward and tail first in time toward places I have been and will not visit again. The other wanders lazily down until it is it cloven into two forks: left toward town, right toward the beach. Not a complicated choice and one completely out of your hands. You either need to go into town for something, groceries and bit of human company as you sip a beer, or you need nothing and want nothing and so go down to the beach, lay in the warm sand with your head pillowed on a spare towel, and look toward that striated edge-sky in the distance.

I arrived here, passport expired, with just enough money in a distant bank to make myself welcome. There is no need to renew my papers. Dollars are introduction enough and I am in no hurry to go. As long as the money lasts I am greeted at the market, poured my regular beer without asking, and mostly left alone. I ignore my fellow countrymen whenever I can, who arrive here only by accident or worse, driven by a sense of adventure I recognize and avoid. I wear the loose-fitting local clothes and a straw hat and let the sun be my disguise. Cornered, I smile and shrug and hold up my hands to say, not much, then direct them towards the magnificent cliffs further up the road, the explosions of surf, the rugged, sculptured stone, the cliff divers. I recommend a hotel there I have never visited and walk back up the sloping path toward the cottage.

I stop at the fork, select a comfortable rock and watch a liquid sun slowly pour over the horizon, spreading a molten orange line that momentarily illuminates the edge. I wait for the green flash, a signal to proceed, but it does not come. A shadowless twilight illuminates the path. The further I go from the shore the more the surf takes on the steady roar as of water over a cataract. Someday the green flash will come, and I will know it is time to go. Until then the sound of distant water lulls me to sleep.

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