I am an Island
Paul Simon declares himself a rock and strums a melancholy chord, while Art Garfunkel grips his stool and sings the harmony. Paul, resolutely, stands. They recorded this performance at the height of their popularity, just before their separation. Later, the industry describes their split as tectonic; it came with as much warning as an earthquake.
Paul addresses the audience, dappled with white faces that nod and clap as appropriate, silver jewelry flickering by stagelight. "This is, according to Arty, my most neurotice song." I think he meant it as a joke, but the audience does not laugh. Paul rubs his nose. Art fists a lock of hair. I wonder how the industry did not see it coming; their posture is like the shaking of a seismograph.
An ammonite catches lamplight from the top of my bookshelf. It is shaped like a tight spiral: fossilized, abstract and vaguely pearlescent in color, it is difficult to imagine this as something that was once alive. It was a gift from my aunt, bought at the outskirts of Las Vegas on the precipice of dusk: sunlight hit the fossil like my lamp does now, iridescent and pretty and several thousand, million years dead.
Temperature changes quickly in the desert; gunshots crack above the chorus of rodents waking, the lizard claws scraping. I jump. My aunt pays the sound no mind, and neither do the rodents climbing from their boroughs, though the lizards shimmy rapidly away. My aunt explains while counting money for the cashier:
Boulders expand with heat, like living things sprawling to fill a patch of sun. They stretch with the sun and shrink from the moon. Day transitions into night and the cool sets too quickly, so boulders split themselves in half as if self-flagellation might somehow push against the change. As if controlling the point of pain could make change more bearable. Art Garfunkel was absorbed in an adaption of Catch-22 while Paul remained at the studio, splitting himself.
No one pays the gunshots any mind. My fossil catches light, and Paul declares himself a rock.
In the ninth grade, my best friend's parents divorced. She spent the night a lot that year, and beneath the quiet safety of 3am, she grips our shared blanket and whispers sentiment to the tune of, "Thank you for being my rock." I did not feel like a rock and I do not feel like a rock and I never have been a rock. I was too soft then and I'm too soft now, more sponge than stone. I absorb whatever emotion is set before me.
My mother said not to buy the lava rock. Cursed, she said. Bad things happen to the tourists. "It's more like Pele to set your house on fire," our guide says, looking everywhere but our direction. "She does not bother with curses." Pele is a direct sort of goddess. Once in her jealousy she turned a man to bark and his lover to bright red flowers, which bloom only in thin volcanic soil. She knows what she wants and who she wants and makes sure you know it too. Pele does not deal in curses. But I think if I am a rock then I must be cursed. I cannot explain this feeling: it is either I am disliked, or not believed in at all. "Thank you for being my rock," she says again. I hear the ammonite crack against the change. I cannot explain this feeling.
About the Author: Zoey Cohen graduates next year from Saginaw Valley State University with degrees in both Psychology and Creative Writing. When not writing, Zoey enjoys researching, tabletop gaming, and researching for tabletop gaming.