Nettie dropped to her knees and pulled David’s clumsy body off the porcelain tiles. Against his mother’s skin he reanimated, and Nettie kissed him over and over. There didn’t appear to be any damage, no bruises, cuts or bumps, but then again, why would there be? His tumble had been so quiet, so small, she hadn’t even heard it happen. It was as though he just slid, like Jell-O coming out of a pan. Nettie rocked him back and forth as much for her own comfort as for his, and he gurgled a surprised and excited sound before smiling wide, showing off his new tooth.
If, in the annals of our town of Lacana's folklore, the archangels Michael and Lucifer settled the whole matter of the apocalypse in town, it would be said thus; that they tucked their rusted iron-tipped wings behind the backs of two time-splintered oak chairs and fought for the souls of seven drunks and two anonymous alcoholics who’d steeled themselves against the drink but not the company.
“He might have some thoughts,” was all her mom, Luz, said, cancelling early Spanish classes at St. Cecilia’s. As long as Serafina wouldn’t get tricked by therapy into talking about stealing the mini-van at midnight to meet a boy who ghosted her at the winery—which got robbed after she forgot to rearm the alarm—before she lost the only key to aunt Julieta’s heirloom Armada chest from Mexico—she’d see the good doctor.
They lived on the border between East Southport and Southport Village, tucked back in the quiet, shaded streets a few blocks from the train station. There was no proper downtown for East Southport, no walkable Main Street, unless you counted the two delis and grody roadhouse connected to the train station by a cracked and overgrown strip of concrete. Not like Southport Village’s Main Street, with its cute candle shops and movie theater and hand-made jewelry boutiques, and best of all, an actual port, the harbor hanging at the end of Main Street like a big, beautiful oil painting. Maybe it was inconsequential – like the dog food commercial – but it had to be bad luck living in a town whose name was a lie. There was no port in East Southport. And it wasn’t even east of Southport. It was west.
At Harvard they all wondered what was it like to have a mind like his. The ones who knew him well enough to know what he could do, the ones who had seen him in action. Like the week in which he had learned to read and speak basic Sanskrit. And the several months afterward in which he had memorized the Mahabharata and began threading it effortlessly into his conversation. They didn’t say so aloud. They didn’t like to admit it publicly that Robert Oppenheimer was so uncanny and they were so merely human. He didn’t seem to be capable of forgetting things. He remembered everything he ever read, everything he ever picked up in a seminar or a lecture hall or in conversation.