By Haley Naughton
It’s always too hot and he carries on like it isn’t a problem but it is. The sun bakes black shadows, casting the shy likeness of each mangrove root as scribbles on the packed sand. He is there on the beach, covered in sunscreen and sweat, rifling through an ocean of plastic straws, condoms, netting, and bones. Across the barren wasteland of filth and neglect he tiptoes in the sand, stopping every once and a while to pick up a pollutant and place it in a big black trash bag.
“I’ve had it with all the women in this family, they’re too strong willed,” he says.
He thinks about what it would be like to be in the same room with them—his mom and his two sisters—and shakes his head. They forgave him because they had to, because it was eating them alive, he knew. But there was no way he was going to talk about it. Not in a million years.
Last week, he acted in a post-apocalyptic play in which he painted his face white and wore all white and talked about dancing bears and shivered in an overstuffed arm chair, as if overcome by a fear of water. The play was called At Least We’ve Got A Turkey and at the end he carved up the turkey, center stage. It was nothing more than a platter of bones.
Deep in the mangroves, he finds a dog. It might have been a dog. He plucks a sun-bleached vertebra from the pile and puts it in his pocket. The plastic mountain does not dwindle until months after he starts and he comes to the conclusion that if they were considering him at all, they were not considering him above their own emotions.
But he still misses them. He still misses them all.
Haley Naughton has, for some time now, been trying to lock down the onomatopoeia for that sound your teeth make when you clack your jaw, because it’s definitely not just clack.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 175