Our Time in San Francisco

by Nicholas Cook


“I love you,” he said. I imagined him falling off a cliff. All those pitiful green-blue waves crashing beneath him. Why does water foam like that?


When he was away I took his things from one room to the other, arranged them neatly underneath the bed. A pair of socks containing his collection of foreign currency, how he said if anyone breaks in at night just swing this around your head. I never knew what to do with violence. I said forever and didn't mean it.


In winter his hands were never warm. “Your skin is so dry,” he said.


It's true, there was a thin layer of love. We watched surfing movies. I couldn't stand water. “Look how they move,” he said. “Look at those pecs.” Around us everyone was healthy; we were healthy. We walked for fun and said, “Look at that hill, that's nothing.” At the beach I imagined water boiling because what else could I do?


“I love you a little less,” he said. I knew what that meant. I packed a bag and imagined swinging coins above my head. He was watching a surfing movie from the 70s. “I'll never be fit like this,” he said, “but that's ok. Isn't it?” I took a match and relit the pilot light that was always blowing out. I once read a statistic that said the number of house fires have been dropping since the 70s. In numbers: seven-hundred thousand to three-hundred thousand. Just ask anyone.