You couldn’t stop singing. You sat on a boulder by a rushing stream and sang and sang, all the songs you could remember. Folk songs, pop songs, ballads of love gone wrong. Maybe it was some primal comfort for yourself, facing a future alone, or a desperate way to revive his attraction, though he wasn’t even there. The air was damp, the pebbles under your bare feet were cold and wet, the sun was warm on your bare shoulders. The trees surrounding the mountain gorge were lush and green. The other four were back at the campsite and you wished never to see them again, or at least never to see her again— the girl your boyfriend had secretly been sleeping with, the girl’s ex-boyfriend, your college friend, your boyfriend. Five sleeping bags, three BMW motorcycles, a campfire that had gone out. You were half way between Germany and Morocco, somewhere in the Pyrenees, when you discovered the affair. You remember being startled by her baleful looks when the two of you zipped your sleeping bags together. His apologetic glances. Maybe you asked him outright. You’d never been betrayed before and couldn’t fathom what he told you. You were twenty-one. All was tragedy, nothing was farce. It must have been early the next morning that you left them all asleep to wend your way down the narrow rocky path to the swimming hole. It’s hard to remember. You only remember that moment when you sat on the boulder alone in your red and white bikini and sang and sang, your eyes swollen and dry after a night of tears, your heart shocked into stone. You hugged yourself, and rocked and rocked as you sang, barely aware of the beauty surrounding you. Everything was green. The water was so clear that you could see each pebble in the bed of the stream. A yellow butterfly hovered just above you, fluttering, then alighted on your wet hair like a light kiss from the universe.
Jacqueline Doyle has flash in Sweet, The Pinch, Quarter After Eight, PANK, Monkeybicycle, matchbook, and Wigleaf, and a chapbook, The Missing Girl, just out with Black Lawrence Press. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be found online here and on twitter @doylejacq.