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Current and Still

Caroline M. Yoachim is the author of over two dozen short stories, including her Nebula-nominated novelette "Stone Wall Truth." She is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, and her fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Asimov's, Interzone, and Daily Science Fiction, among other places. For more about Caroline, check out her website at carolineyoachim.com.

I am in love with a man from the current.
My mother thinks this is foolish. She wants me to settle down with a boy from the still. She doesn't understand. She met my father when they were in the current. Otherwise I wouldn't exist.
The man from the current lives his life in repeating waves, as people do. In the mornings, forward, putting on the suit and tie and riding the train to work. In the evenings, back, the train again before taking off the suit. Yet beneath these repetitions there is change, an overall direction of learning and promotion and aging and decline.
He does not know that I am watching from the still.
Women pass through his life. Marriage, divorce, marriage, divorce, dating, dating, friends. With each one I wonder, will they steal his heart away from me, before he leaves the current? I have no way of knowing, until he comes to the still.
We dated once, the man and I, though he was a boy back then. He took me to a frozen pond and I wobbled and clung to his arm while we skated slow circles around dangerously thin ice. I fell through and he fished me out of the frigid water, but I left the current two days later. My mother says my love is obsession, and reminds me that I am a teenager and he will come to the still an old man. She tells me that there are nice boys in the still, single lonely boys who left the current with cancer or in car crashes, or a million other ways. Some of them pine after girls from the current, and doesn't that seem pathetic?
My man from the current moves to a nursing home, and his waves are smaller now. Gone are the commutes back and forth to work, gone is the suit. He drifts where the current takes him now, and the current always ends at the same place. In the end, all of us are still.
He meets someone. His neighbor in the nursing home, a woman with a smile creased into the wrinkles of her face, she is so cheerful. Her saccharine attitude sickens me, perhaps because he is charmed by it. None of the women before this held his attention, but even I can see that this one is different. I am losing him, and all I can do is watch.
They come to the still, the man I loved for all his life and the woman that he chose over me. He is kind, but fatherly, which I find both comforting and disconcerting. She is cheerful and bubbly and irritates me with her very existence.
My mother once again reminds me of the boys in the still, the single boys, the ones that died young. One of them, she tells me, had pined after the cheerful woman, the woman that stole away my love. To humor her, I visit the boy.
It is strange, after spending so long watching the life of my love, to be with someone who does not flow through the current. The boy is still, as I am.
He is not my love and I am not his, but we are still, together.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
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