We were sitting on the porch sipping coffee when a sudden rain started pounding the desert, the sky still blue. Jake said: “We should build our own coffins.”
I gave the idea a tsk-tsk and a one-shoulder shrug. This was so Jake. He was the kind that reflexively greeted the unexpected with something even more unexpected, as if surprises had to come in pairs and the universe relied on him to restore celestial balance.
“That is the shittiest midlife crisis I’ve ever heard of,” I said, not dignifying his comment with a glance or an eyebrow raise–the shrug was plenty–as if he’d offered to make pasta for lunch or asked if I wanted to take the first shower.
He hated when I downplayed him, I knew he did, but he could never admit it. That was a thing to count on, his inability to state a grievance directly. He would, instead, feed on my affected indifference, and we’d lose the rest of the morning to banter, like we were actors in a hall-walking scene of a Sorkin melodrama. But I was done, just done, and I’ve never figured out why, what about that moment made me so sure, maybe it was as simple as the rain hammering the final nail in place–I’m a sucker for metaphor–so when he said, “No, I’m serious, I read an article in the Atlantic. This is a thing,” I merely shook my head and fixed my gaze to the middle-distance, the rain striking the hard skin of the valley. He didn’t speak again either. We just sat there, silent, students of the rain. It wouldn’t be even five minutes before tiny riverlets began appearing, and then the valley floor would undulate, alive with writhing snakes of water, glistening bodies eagerly finding their way.