The Epicenter

Mary was living in a small apartment at the edge of Manhattan Island. She took walks to the piers and saw the boats slicing up water in the distance and heard the song of gulls and machinery in the air. She needed to rebuild herself, of that she was certain. But how?

When she met Martin, she told him about her walks. He taught her how the island was expanded when the land under the harbor first went for sale by the city to private investors, who bought it with plans to fill it up so it could be turned to valuable real estate. "These men recognized value," he emphasized. The material didn't matter, so they raised the land up by piling sand and scrap construction material and even the carcasses of horses and pigs. Minimal investment for the most value. Mary thought: this may be my better half.

They married in spring in a church downtown. It was a small ceremony and the vows were homemade and Mary and Martin said them to each other with such sincerity and tenderness that some guests cried and others felt strangely like intruders, though everyone agreed the reception was tasteful. I neither cried nor felt uncomfortable, unusual as it was that Martin even invited me, and I spent a good amount of time drinking champagne and wondering why I had let myself cross this particular line when I had been good, that is to say, well-boundaried for many years now. How is it that slipping happens so fast?

Mary looked beautiful. That night they tried to make love again as if they were virgins, but Martin was having problems which he said was from all the excitement. He was too in love to make love. They fell asleep and she dreamed her reoccurring dream.

Mary's Dream:

The room fills with blue light and I think to myself, "They're here" and then wonder who they are and how I know this. In groups of three they rise up through the floors and I can't move at all. It is as if I were paralyzed. The fear is so great I can't barely stand it, and I realize it must be a dream but I can't seem to wake myself up. I know there is someone outside the window who can help. They move towards me faster than they should be able to but I have time to make out their blank unblinking eyes in the moonlight and skinny gray shoulders. They have no nipples or sex parts at all. They take the cross from my neck and say they know things about my body and suddenly my

"Mary, Mary, are you alright?"

"Oh oh I was having that nightmare again."

"I know I could tell. You're okay now, you're okay."

And then he held her close and felt very good about what they were doing, and what he had done.

As for me I was seeing less patients, drinking less, and working regularly. The city faintly hummed as I left the gym in the evening for my place at Marble Hill, which was once attached to the body of Manhattan before the river was redirected to making shipping easier Now it is connected to the Bronx. It was not easy to move the river but well worth it, as it helped strengthen New York's status as an epicenter of the world and also a ground zero for progress and yes value, which is why it needed men who would bury horses and pigs in the harbor; and men to keep each other's secrets -- that is my job, and though I do envy Martin and Mary and her long walks by the sea I can't help but think of what's beneath solid ground, and wonder what they're planning to do to each other next.

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