by Tom Hazuka
Beth was three months pregnant when we went to France on our honeymoon. The trip represented our promise not to let the baby change who we were, not to forget that there was so much world, all around, waiting. Then in Normandy, strolling down to the beach for lunch, we saw a woman dive from a fourth-floor window and die on the sidewalk, right across the street. It was horrible, a shock out of nowhere on a gorgeous sunny day. People ran to the rag-doll body, yelling for a doctor, yelling for the police. But it was hopeless. Beth trembled against me in a way she never had before; I knew she was remembering her younger sister who had killed herself. Hugging each other hard, Beth and I walked to the shore. Young men in tiny bathing suits played volleyball on the sand, oblivious to what had happened two hundred feet away.
“It’ll be all right,” I said finally, to both of us. I put the untouched bread and cheese in my backpack, though I was very hungry. I squinted against the glare off the Atlantic. The water was cold here, all year round.
“Right,” Beth said.
The next day we drove the abbey road, along the Seine. The river flowed slow and perfect in the morning mist. We stopped at the Abbaye de Jumièges and paid to enter the magnificent ruin, roofless walls and white stone spires reaching for the sky.
I found her in a courtyard staring at a decapitated marble angel, its childlike hands palm-to-palm in prayer, the front of its bare feet broken off and worn as smooth as a windowsill polished by generations of elbows.
Beth touched the angel’s wings. “Vacation’s almost over, lover,” she whispered. “Soon we have to fly home.”
Our fingers intertwined on the cold, hard stone.