really. Nothing more than usual.
The doctor leans back in his chair.
âSomething else bothering you?
âNot really. I canât think of anything.
âMarital problems. Financial troubles? An illness in the family?
âNo, nothing like that.
Carl thinks a moment.
âWell, he says. I keep dreaming of water.
âI dream of huge bodies of water. Almost every night.
âAny idea why?
âNo, actually I donât.
Carl looks down, and neither of them speak for a moment. Then the doctor smiles and shrugs.
âEvery once in a while we have to accept some things we donât understand.
âI guess so, Carl says.
The doctor leans forward clutching the form.
Carl reaches for one of the X-rays and holds it up to the light. His stomach and intestines are marked with a thin white line, the rest lies in darkness. He sees the children outside. Their snowsuits appear gold and crimson through the cloudy film.
âI just need you to sign here.
The doctor pushes the form and insurance card toward Carl.
Carl is still holding the X-ray up to the light.
âAre those your children? he asks.
The doctor looks at him, puzzled.
Carl puts the X-ray down. After he has signed, he picks it up again.
âMay I keep this?
âSure, the doctor says, looking up. But believe me, thereâs nothing to see.
T hey sat on the keel of a dinghy that was lying on the beach. Thomas was leaning back, supporting himself with his hands, head tilted, gazing up. Jon looked straight off into the night. He could see the foam of the low surf, could hear the pebbles murmuring as the water moved back out to sea.
âI canât find it, Thomas said.
âWhat? Jon said.
âThe Big Dipper.
âDoes it matter?
Thomas leaned forward and took the wine bottle from Jonâs hand.
âHave a little wine, Jon said.
Jon looked at the surf and Thomas leaned his head back.
They sat like that for a while.
âAll the big things, Thomas said suddenly. For some reason, we can only approach them in images.
âTake the stars, for example. We canât see them the way they are, we arrange them into constellations. Itâs the same with death, or having a child. What can you say about it? But if you can find the right imagery.
âLife is great, Thomas said.
âMaybe Iâm not drunk enough.
âCâmon, stop whining.
Thomas handed him the bottle. Jon leaned his head back and looked for the Big Dipper as he drank.
âI can see two, he said. He pointed with the bottle. A small one up here and a bigger one there.
âNo way, Thomas said.
Jon pointed again.
âGod damn, youâre right.
Thomas glanced from one to the other.
âMaybe we should go inside and wake up the others. Tell them weâve made an astronomical discovery.
âI think Charlotte wants to sleep, Jon said.
âIsnât Vivian just fucking beautiful.
âYeah, Jon said. Sheâs pretty amazing. Youâre really lucky.
âEverythingâs just a matter of luck. Itâs all chance.
âYes, Jon said.
âCharlotte is beautiful too. Sheâs a really nice girl.
Thomas stood and pulled his T-shirt over his head.
âCâmon, he said. Letâs go swimming.
He unzipped his pants and pulled them down all the way to his shoes. Then he sat down on the boat and untied his laces. A moment later he stood naked before Jon.
âDonât you think itâs too cold?
âNot at all. Itâs never been warmer.
âAnd donât you think youâre too drunk?
Thomas turned and ran toward the sea. Jon could see Thomasâ body standing out white against the dark water. Thomas ran until the darkness reached his knees. A ways out, the water was shallow. A splash. After that Jon saw Thomas in glimpses, a foot, a white arm, the upper part of his back. Then there