Theo pulled out of the driveway in the dark, at 4:00 a.m. sharp. Becky put on The Little Mermaid before they were even out of the neighborhood, and the kids drifted back to sleep as it played. Theo stared out the windshield at the dark onrushing road as the cartoon creatures squawked and sang behind him—out they rolled from the Virginia mountains into North Carolina’s coastal plain toward Myrtle Beach. Water covers 71% of the earth, which made it seem odd to Theo that they had to drive nine hours to get to the shore—only because we rarely consider how small we are: a sport utility vehicle hurtling at seventy miles per hour would look from a satellite like a slow creeping insect making a pathetic break for open water.The car hood began to take on its daytime sage green as the sky lightened. Along the horizon to the left, a fuzzy crack of orange light split open, began to spread upward and change colors into pink and blue. Scattering molecules in the atmosphere, changing the direction of the sun’s light waves. The sun pushed up from the horizon, surrounded by diffraction rings, caused by water vapor in the air.The sea is 96.5% actual H2O, and the rest is composed of a whole lot of shit, including bacteria, plankton, archaea. Human lungs are 83% H2O—it seems odd, thinking about it this way, that we cannot breathe underwater; seems like it should be the most natural thing. Our bodies are about 65% water—only about 5% less than an actual white fish, whose body is, on average 70% water, and our bones skew the number, being only about 31% water. Our brains are 75% water. Our blood 92%. It would not be an overstatement simply to say we are water.The movie ran its course and all went quiet. Becky dozed restlessly with no pillow, or even a balled-up sweatshirt, her head against the window. Mile after mile, and the car felt as if it were floating. This was Becky’s car. When he’d first climbed in, it was all he could do not to mention all the fat greasy splats between his legs, a good start to a fast-food Mahjongg puzzle. The kids slept in back. Inside, the air hung motionless, filling slowly with the stink of their sweaty child bodies, their sleep-yawning mouths, their farts. Theo drove on for two hours without a sound other than the tires’ humming and popping against road seams.“Daddy?” baby Jen’s tiny voice called out into the car, over the tires’ humming drone.“Yes, sweetie,” Theo said, craning to see her in his rearview mirror. She was in the center, as she was the smallest, and had been sleeping folded over onto a pillow in her own lap. The afghan’s pattern was impressed on the side of her face like the pencil scribble of a leaf.Awakened, Becky straightened herself and said, “What do you need, sweetie?”“I have to pee.”“We’ll be stopping for breakfast in%
Source: What’s in the Water, by Vic Sizemore
“When All Was Young” is published in Litro Magazine, the UK’s largest free creative arts magazine.
Big Bully is another excerpt from my essay collection Get Thee Behind Me about leaving Christian Fundamentalism. It is published in Superstition Review.