A journal of narrative writing.
Santa Monica

Listen to “Santa Monica”
read by Betsy Brown

"return life, / which ignored them and gave them hearts like windows"
	Stephen McNally

It’s a standard commercial shoot: film in Dallas, post-production in L.A. I know this freakish Texan cold — it always hits me at touchdown at Dallas-Ft. Worth, the famous unnamed gates, trains to nowhere, these things that have changed since I saw you last. Cold black wind. Our call time is 6 a.m. I remember that highway. We film the high school marching band in red at the SMU football field, the bleachers and faces and pivots, the steely rainclouds of your town. The head twirler is riveting, you would love these boots, the turf, the red flag color-guard girls and the boy with the trombone. All of us frozen. I have been trying to call you for years. All post-production is off in LA. You would’ve written your own theme song there, we’d stroll to grilled dinners off Third. But I’m freezing my ass in Dallas. These kids go into formation again, the tuba boy is wandering. It’s not the beat of a different autumn, I’m just not sure why these, even, turn out to be the pieces I’ve kept of you. Letters from Dallas. Don’t think I’m not finding you here. We shoot four spots. There are disposable cameras, magenta pens at the bookstore. A shirt with your handprints on it. I admire this sharp grass, the glide of lawns without curbs, the slow openings of shops along streets we’ve lit and draped and roped, but I’ve got to go. Dallas numbs without you. Can this be fixed in post? I walk to the sea when I get to Santa Monica. Who would respect this as weather? It’s amber now. Men make homes in the hills leading down to the water; their blankets, scarves, torn bags snuggle against dust and cats. It’s a good lost spot back under the neon Santa Monica sign, her last tossed kiss to the start of the Pacific Coast Highway, views and views of all the routes we’d drive, we would have, until it’s all okay — oh. It’s okay now. It’s all over.