I wake alone and exhausted.  I am naked, cold.  The sun is only beginning to rise, and it is a miracle that I did not oversleep.  The house is still.  Slowly, I sit up and pull on my underwear and pants.  I cannot find my shirt.  I get a new one from a drawer and make it a point to remember to ask Zink about the other one. 

My mother is up, stirring about in the kitchen when I go to get breakfast.  She is making tea for both of us, and asks if I would like more oatmeal.  I accept the tea but decline the oatmeal, one cold bowl was enough. 

Instead, I stop by the bakery and buy a slice of buttered bread, which is warm and melts in my mouth against the cool morning breeze.  The tea is hot enough that it lets off a slight steam into the chill. 

I arrive before even Koso, a return of time for my near lateness yesterday.  There is nothing to do, no files to upkeep, and the only work we intend on doing today is delivery, so I walk the few feet to the sand. 

Hundreds of shells line the little beach.  Our sea is often calm, beautiful as the sky above it, but it has been known also to fight and storm in anger, and toss up its unwanted keepsakes from the depths.  Today may come a storm, I fear.  The morning sky shows nothing ominous, but the sea knows its way, and is swaying in undulation.  I sit on the beach and sift the sand through my fingers. 

I should love Zink.  She frequents my conversations and my bed, but there is a line between us, drawn of dirt for keeping score.  We do not play for love.  She is my friend, I suppose, and beautiful.  Hear me, Ilene, Zink is beautiful.  She moves like grace and my body cries out for her.  Yet, I cannot have her and I don’t even care.  I am too much of a coward to look for the right sort of love.  

The End

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