Patricia Q. Bidar
scaffolds the scene. The bright sun and the jagged rocks and the starfish, clinging. The pound and sizzle of the surf, not far from where the Russian River meets the sea. Farther out, gray and blue whales travel from Baja California to the Chukchi Sea for the feeding season. So close to this car in the dirt parking circle.
“It’s hotter here than I thought it would be,” Daisy says. She draws her palm across the tall man’s thigh. She hasn’t told him she is ovulating. Why should she? They haven’t even exchanged names. She keeps a small notebook with dates and temperatures.
“Layers,” says the tall man. He glances at the lock on the passenger side, her side. He tugs the layers, grips and is taken in and then the gasp. His mouth tastes of tea; hers, of beer. In the water, a sea lion’s slick head emerges, then disappears. There are picnicking families with sandy-legged toddlers. Above the nearby bluff, seagulls wheel.
Clothing restored, the two watch as a pair of hang gliders lift from the bluff, one after the other. Inside Daisy, spermatozoa wriggle and strive. She needs to get back to her husband and their beach blanket. The statistics he has gathered. What folly, what delusion. As if the wind is under one’s control. The hang gliders who fly above the rocks don’t imagine the fall, the paralysis. Daisy’s handsome husband will explain all that.
She will watch and nod, the tall stranger’s semen warm inside her, accomplishing whatever science and chance decides. They need to get home so her husband can receive his treatment and rest in his darkened room. She reclines on the muscle car’s warm hood and imagines her body airborne, dipping.
Standing at the driver’s side, the tall man’s smile is a little strained. But he doesn’t tell her to get off. Daisy imagines him bringing the ride to car shows around the state. Left forearm tanned. Salt and pepper mustache in fresh trim. Setting up a collapsible chair and fielding questions. His hood popped, the immaculate engine open to inspection. He’d rev the motor while stoppers-by marveled. A Route 66 life, with its clean and sun-soaked pleasures.
Her husband will be checking his phone for sunset times and traffic conditions. Later, in their car, he will get the AC going. Fold the sunshade and stow it in the back seat. Then he’ll open the passenger side door for her. Their city-pale feet will be sore from the rocky beach.
His treatment hour will arrive. Daisy will become pregnant, or she won’t.
“That hang gliding business, it’s more leisurely than you’d imagine,” she says. “More under control.” She sits up, still on the hood. “The wind is your partner. You can work with the wind,” she says.
“Hot enough to fry an egg,” says the tall man. Daisy descends. The tall man gives a little nod as she finds her footing. In the distance, the jutting rocks, spattered with white, appear as friendly sentries. Her husband is behind a dune. At least, that is where she trusts he is. Sunlight flashes on the water like scattered glass.
Patricia Quintana Bidar is a Western writer from the Port of Los Angeles area, with family roots in Southern Arizona, Northern New Mexico, and the Great Salt Lake. She is an alum of the U.C. Davis Graduate Writing Program, and also holds a BA in Filmmaking. Her work has been included in Flash Fiction America (W.W. Norton, 2023), Best Small Fictions (Alternating Current, 2023), and Best Microfiction (Pelekinesis Press, 2023). Her book of short fiction, Pardon Me For Moonwalking, will be published by Unsolicited Press in 2025. Patricia lives with her family and unusual dog outside of Oakland, CA. Find her at https://patriciaqbidar.com
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