THE WAY IT WENT DOWN: AT THE SHORE
I never asked where greatgrandpop was interred, but he would talk about it from time to time. He said is was a hot place, somewhere far from the sea. Far from Florida. Greatgrandpop was 118 when he left, though we don't tell anyone that.
"Why were you put there?" I asked him, once, when I was 9.
"You'll see, one day," he smiled, and laughed.
We had the government man come by twice in the time I've been alive. They sat at the kitchen table with my parents and read them some sort of legal document to them the first time. The second time, I listened outside the window to the kitchenette.
"-agreement of November 12, 1956, Frederick Gilman, prisoner #0201 YY Internment, Bellweaver Arizona, in exchange for certain items of national interest the prisoner will be remanded-"
On the night I found out, greatgrandpop whistled to me, from the garage, his home.
"It's time, kiddo." So I took him. A bundle of bones in a leather sack, neck bloated, eyes bulging from whatever was killing him and we got in the car. I had promised him. I promised. He didn't want to die away from the sea.
We made the sea in less than ten minutes. I always feel alive at the beach, even in the night. When his feet found the waves, it was like he straightened. He shook off the blanket, and in the night I could see the sores all over his body. He turned and looked at me, and wheezing, he smiled, and his teeth were flinty and small.
"Maggie, don't you follow me. Not yet. Start in the pool. Listen to your body. Go under. Wait."
And, faster than I thought possible, he disappeared into the surf. I thought I might cry, but I did't.
Tomorrow would be the questions. But for now, it's me in the pool, underneath. The water plugs my ears in a comforting way, like a hug, and I feel alone and warm and safe here.
And in that silence, something speaks to me in his voice.