By Keegan Crawford

(Illustrated by Jenn Kucharczyk)

It was night time and they weren't tired yet.
They sat inside the hotel and people were talking to a French man.
The French man didn't speak English, but everyone seemed to understand each other.
A girl was sitting on a chair and drawing the room, without any people in it.
She looked like she was constantly blushing.
The man liked that she was drawing.
She might have been actually blushing, but it was hard to tell.
___ and --- walked toward the beach. It was cold but the cold felt warm.
People were at the beach.
___ thought about people throwing bottles into the ocean with notes in them
and what percentage of those bottles are ever found or read, or even were
legible if the water had gotten into the bottle and smeared the ink.
___ sat in the sand and wrote a letter to someone in a black book.
Sartre was mentioned. Sand was mentioned. ___ wrote something about life.
He closed the book and watched people play in the sand.
Like children, but not in the way that people think is bad.
They walked back toward where they were going to sleep.
The houses seemed stoic, like their insides were filled with cement.
___ thought about the feeling of being safe.
Someone ran their hand along an iron fence. Quietly.

There were what seemed like hundreds of bugs swarming around the lights outside.
___ felt scared. --- was less scared.
People were sitting outside, ignoring the bugs, or maybe acknowledging their existence
and peacefully occupying the same space with them.

___ and --- went inside for an unknown amount of time.

They left again, just them, and walked down a street that they had walked down before
but not in the way as they were now.
There was no one around. The houses and stores were closed.
The atmosphere was waiting to be felt but never did.
There was a tower with a bell that rang at each hour.
___ thought, 'it could be four in the morning or nine in the evening. I can't tell.'
The bell rang twenty-one times. Nine.

'I don't like this.'
'I kind of do.'

They started to walk to the cemetery. The bodies were crowded, there was only
one cemetery for everyone who died in the village. The cemetery
seemed like the only cemetery that was ever there. There might have been
layers of bodies, stacked on top of each other due to the lack of room.
It seemed comforting, somehow.

The girl was still drawing.
___ and --- walked upstairs and went to their respective rooms.


___ had trouble mailing the letter. They didn't understand him.
It never got to the person he wrote it to and he hated how symbolic that seemed.

'I may as well have put it in a bottle and threw it in the ocean.'

Months later, the drawing girl died of heart failure.
Everyone who had been in France with her was encouraged to write a narrative about her in remembrance.
Each person was in a separate room.
All ___ could think about was how the people in the room weren't feeling what he was feeling.


keegan crawford lives in portland, oregon