“Are you originally from around here?” I asked softly.
“Where are you from?”
“Faraway, Oklahoma?” I asked. “Faraway, Alabama? Maybe Faraway, Maine?”
Farther away than all of those. You would not believe me if I named the place.”
“I would believe you,” I assured her.
“I’ve believed everything you’ve said, though I don’t know why, and though I don’t understand moist of it.”
“Why would you believe me so readily?”
“I don’t know.”
“But you do know.”
“Yes. You know.”
“Give me a hint. Why do I believe you so readily?”
“Why does anyone believe anything?” she asked.
“Is this a philosophical question--or just a riddle?”“Empirical evidence is one reason.”
“You mean like--I believe in gravity because if I throw a stone in the air, it falls back to the ground?”
“Yes. That’s what I mean.”
“You haven’t been exactly generous with empirical evidence,” I reminded her. “I don’t even know where you’re from. Or your name.”
“You know my name.”
“Only your first name. What’s your last?”
“I don’t have one.”
“Everybody has a last name.”
“I’ve never had one.”
The night was cold; our breath smoked from us. She had such a mystical quality. I might have been persuaded that we had exhaled the entire vast ocean of fog that now drowned all things, that she had come down from Olympus with the power to breathe away the world and, out of the resultant mist, remake it to her liking.
I said, “You had to have a last name to go to school.”
“I’ve never gone to school.”
She did not reply.
“Without a last name, how do you get welfare?”
“I’m not on the welfare rolls.”
“But you said you don’t work.”
“What--do people just give you money when you need it?”
“Wow. That would be even less stressful than the tire life or shoe sales.”
“I’ve never asked anyone for anything--until I asked you if you would die for me.”
“You knew my name?” I asked.
“As you know mine.”
“But I don’t.”
“I’m Annamarie,” she said. “One word. It would have come to you.”
Confused, I said, “We’ve spoken before, but I’m sure we never exchanged names.”
She only smiled and shook her head.
A white flare arced across the dismal sky: a gull fleeing to land as afternoon faded.
Annamarie pulled back the long sleeves of her sweater, revealing her graceful hands. In the right she held a translucent green stone the size of a fat grape.
“Is that a jewel?” I asked.
“Sea glass. A fragment of a bottle that washed around the world and back, until it has no sharp edges. I found it on the beach.” She turned it between her slender fingers. “What do you think it means?”
“Does it have to mean anything?”
“The tide washed it as smooth as a baby’s skin, and as the water winked away, the glass seemed to open like a green eye.”
A dove descending through candescent air, a brush bursting into fire and from the fire a voice, stars shifting from their timeless constellations to form new and meaningful patterns in the heavens. . .
Those were some of the signs upon which the prophets historically had based their predictions and their actions. I received instead two stopped clocks.
Here is a second example, which opens Chapter Twenty-Four of the same work; unlike the previous example, this one continues through several short paragraphs, probably for the sake of emphasis, before coming to the point that “the weather was something more than mere weather”:
A universal solvent poured through the world, dissolving the works of man and nature.Makes me want to read further!
Shapes like buildings loomed in vague detail. Geometric fence rows separated nothing from nothing, and their rigid geometry melted into mist at both ends.
Portions of trees floated in and out of sight, like driftwood on a white flood. Gray grass spilled down slopes that slid away as though they were hills of ashes too insubstantial to maintain their contours.
The dog and I ran for a while, changed direction several times, and then we walked out of nil and into naught, through vapor into vapor.
At some point I became aware that the weather was something more than mere weather. The stillness and the fog and the chill were not solely the consequences of meteorological systems. I began to suspect and soon felt certain that the condition of Magic Beach on this night was a symbolic statement of things to come.