By Andy Betz
I had not awoken fully when I smelled the coffee and I heard her voice say, guess. If my head
had ceased spinning, I might have taken her up on her offer.
I heard small waves break upon a beach, but I did not smell the salt spray of ocean water. Was
that the purpose of the coffee? If so, it was typical of her, for the brief time I knew her.
It must be near noon. The sunlight flows through the voids of the ill-fitting bamboo poles
someone calls a roof. I rub my face only to find a single day’s growth of beard. Having not
consumed anything since the plane ride, my stomach does not yet draw my attention.
But she does.
Or at least the recording of her voice does.
“How I wish you could have been awake during the best part of the journey. The sunrise from
the east makes one feel so very alive. Its reflection on the water was almost blinding. We saw, I
mean, I saw a solitary whale shark heading north. I took its lead and basted in the warmth of the
Sun and the radiant glow it left on both of our skin. Upon our arrival, I couldn’t breathe upon
first sight of the lagoon and the visible ivory coral and the variety of teeming fish species
populating it. Our landing only temporarily spoiled what soon should return. Drink your coffee
and enjoy your surroundings. Guess your location, if you can.” The recording ended there.
I grabbed the coffee and left the confines of the shelter to guess.
I may not remember the travel, but I will never forget the destination.
Her naked silhouette didn’t contrast with the surroundings; instead, it complemented them.
My guess is, I am in Paradise.
With degrees in Physics and Chemistry, Andy Betz has tutored and taught in excess of 30 years. His novel (The Lady in Red Quilt), short stories (The Copy, Kelly, My Color, November, My Bucket List, Mrs. Zeeman), and poems (The First Verse of the Worst Nurse Curse, Soon, I Watched the Ocean, When I Was Ten, The Coin Spins, Once Was a Day Without Sunshine, Wrap Around Wrap, Polysyllabic Enunciation) are works still defining his style. He lives in 1974, has been married for 26 years, and collects occupations (the current tally is 95). He currently teaches physics and physical science.