I keep dreaming of a place. High cliffs, ocean. Water so clear you can see whales meandering, like they’re picking groceries off shelves, checking prices, reading ingredients, above tangles of seaweed, rocks and shells, smaller fish…Last night, I was on the beach, at the water’s edge. Fast-moving clouds blocked the sun. The ocean was opaque: rows and rows of waves, the tide rising fast, taking too much with it. And the wind. It was that kind of wind: you know you should take shelter, but instead you plant your feet and look to the sky. You let it blow your hair, and everything around you. You stumble, and regain your footing. It’s intoxicating: being pushed around by a force of nature. It’s almost like love. My last boyfriend appeared on the beach beside me, as a woman in a white Mercedes floated by, about eighty feet out, swept up in the surge. Her window was rolled down. She looked cheated, and resolved. Shoulder-length blonde hair. About my age: pretty, on the cusp of losing her beauty. It shouldn’t matter, but it does…She didn’t cry for help. She didn’t try to swim ashore. She just sat, staring out, like the situation might somehow right itself. I turned to my ex: Shouldn’t we throw her a rope? So we can at least tie it to the pier? He agreed that was a good idea. We climbed a ton of wooden stairs leading up the hill. We walked across dewy green grass. I joked about some dippy confusion regarding my house keys: the little details people miss when you stop spending time together. They were in my pocket the whole time. And now they were in my hand. He almost smiled. The corners of his mouth rose, a twitch. We stepped into a workshop I’d been living in, with sections of stairs I’d built, and sections he’d built, and other people’s stuff stored everywhere: his grandfather’s fishing gear, the neighbors’ porch swing…My bed was a slab of wood on the floor, some blankets. We set off in search of rope. This joint purpose was comforting after all the separation and silence. It felt like always, almost. My eyes like him. And my heart swallows him whole, but senses the poison, and spits him back out. I couldn’t find any rope. And what he found was thin and alarmingly inadequate. He made some suggestions I rebuffed. The air changed: urgent, delicate panic. I finally found a thick coil of rope. Back on the beach, my ex-lover a darkening shadow beside me, I shouted to the woman in her car. She seemed amenable to the rope. But her face was the same: not relieved, affronted at the attention drawn to her situation. I tossed the rope. She caught it and tied it around the post of her window. And then I was standing on the cliffs. The sun was out and the water was clear. It was a new day. A couple of older ladies asked me if I’d seen the whales: the whales I was already glued to, scrambling down the hill to get closer, my heart fit to burst.