Betwixt and Between

Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said the Prince,
"will you not stay with me one night longer?"

Oscar Wilde The Happy Prince 1888

"33 Oceanview," May told the driver who'd been hired to take her the mile from the ferry dock to the Oak Bluffs cottage she'd rented at Hannah's urgent request. "Get out of here," she'd advised. "If your precious house were burning down, you'd have to run for your life. Leave this inferno behind for a while. You need safety - and distance."

Safety, distance and something that could stop the panicked spiral she'd lived in all winter. Nice, impossible idea. Weeks before, May had stopped believing that a soul who felt such deadness creeping nerve by nerve could hope for resurrection. But Hannah was as gently insistent with May as she was coaxing cut paper onto canvas, so May had left this morning for a month-long Vineyard vacation.

It was the street number. Or numbers. Three of them actually - three points in time and, it seemed, space. Hand lettered down the white gloss paint of the porch post: Now 33. Recently 29. Originally 37. A house that understood, survived and celebrated displacement. May believed she paid the driver, assumed he was the one who placed her luggage in the front hall, had a hazy thought that he'd wished her a happy stay on the island. But she would never be sure. She was already in the embrace of something that eased her breathing and hinted that there might be a way through.