California, ND 58010

I

The doors here are on barns that contain farm equipment or rusty cars or cattle. They are not Spanish style doors on homes with manicured lawns that face the ocean. The mess here is apparent but no one feels the need to hide it.


II

There are steep hills, too steep than should be built on due to the risk of landslide but rich people build here anyway. They can afford the reinforcements that the homes require and require the reinforcement that a beautiful home with a steep staircase down to a private beach provides. You can swim naked here and if anyone should speed by in a boat, it provides an opportunity for your wife to show off her expensive breasts. It never ices over but sometimes the fog rolls in so thick you cannot see the bottom of the stairs that are suddenly very slick. Those are the times your teenage daughter slips down there to make love to your golf buddy’s second son, the one without the ambition.


III

The only stars we have here are the ones that fill the night sky. Well, that was before they struck oil and the refineries were thrown up, their high towers always on fire, always burning away the natural gas to avoid explosions. You can still get to the national park though to canoe the streams past the grazing bison and elk. There is no glamour here, no ocean, no press of people like the coast of California. Well there never used to be before the oil rush brought in big money and bad men.


IV

She would spend her days among boxes of shoes, boxes of hats, boxes of chocolates (that she would send as gifts to her friends that she wished were fat), scarves and sweaters, jewelry and lingerie, all brought to her by sales people as if they were waiters at a banquet. She could spend the day deciding on a single pair of boots and they would let her.


V

It’s black out here between towns when there is no moon. If your pickup truck breaks down along the fields there just isn’t anyone around to help. Your cell phone won’t work here either. You can stand under the world’s largest picture window and stare at the expanse of the physical universe, the Earth as a microbe to it as the microbe in your eye is to you. You can see the passage of time out here clearly as the Earth spins and the stars move beneath the outstretched horizon.


VI

They had both grown up in blue collar families but he had married her and he had made a lot of money. It afforded her a life without work, a life of lunches and shopping and alcohol. Their daughter was her project, a reflection of their high status. She would exceed at school. She would attend an Ivy League college. She would remain petite and blonde and marry well, into a family of wealth and status. This would leave the long legacy of North Dakota back country forever buried.

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, December 2014

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