Monday: Martinique (Non-Fiction)

My memory is blue. A moss blanket of jade mountains rise and fall in the distance. The boat dips toward the sea — frothing, deep, as eternal as brown eyes. I still smell the sea salt. The heat is still beneath my skin, blue and intense like my memory.

Blue passports shimmy through a thin slit separating les Français from the anglophones. Words buzz from gnarled throats with heavy tongues in a language equally sweet and rough.

A man with blue-black skin and muddied clothes balances a joint between his lips, headphones spread wide across his ears, and he buzzes. We are not in Kansas anymore. Parting with 60€ happens easily in a taxi. Then we are in a bubble of blue ocean and sky, suspended between the familiar Caribbean and unfamiliar France.

A place for dreams.

Chocolate filled with rum awaits in a blue cardboard box. Bienvenue. A “creole woman” on the outside of the box smiles at us. The weight of separation from computers and emails and obligations eases from my shoulders. These troubles never cross water.

Sunset casts blue-grey over Trois Îlets. Gritty, blackened sand identifies the contours of the beach as unfamiliar to my feet who can recognize Vigie from Cas En Bas without my help. Buzzing provides welcome silence and privacy. The only words I need to know are Ti Ponche. It is glorious to be hidden in plain sight.

Blue-lipped Canadians drunk off Curaçao and rum hear our English at the beach bar and rattle off assumptions. I enjoy pretending — for once — and then I return to the blue. Ocean stretches out ahead, producing a magnetic lull with all the cosmic pull of staring up at the Milky Way and feeling so infinitesimally small.

Twilight, heavy with screaming crickets, bursts into rain. Darkness follows. Flecks of orange light dot the beach. A gangly light-skinned man bobs his head and the boys make an educated guess that he can help us. They pay with a blue Euro note. Brown hands roll brown papers and laughter carries us out of the blue and into tomorrow.

Dawn I love for her silence. We walk to the beach together, a lump in my throat, terror balancing on my neck, ballet slippers tipped with knives. I trip over blue eggshells, and fall into the ocean as if the salt cleans away misunderstanding.

Blue doesn’t scare me, neither do the waves, neither does the crash. Morning should be more mending than it is. I resent arguing.

Meat, cheese, and bread — foods so heavy that without wine they’re senseless indulgences. Drunk and peaceful, full and quiet, morning dawdles at a pace I forget to enjoy. Day seamlessly bleeds into another blue-grey night, helped along by rum and intellectual buzzing.

Blue-black eyes emerge from the darkness on the beach. Locs piled high on his head, Hades tethered to Cerberus bares teeth and assures us he has safe passage through the dark to Fort-De-France, across the bay. Snickering trickles from the blackness, four distinct voices, and the voices turn us in the other direction before the bully can bite.

His nights are bluer than ours without liquor. Drink, and drink until your throat drowns in whiskey-fire and until you need brown hands rolling brown leaves to dry out your voice. Reggae howls across the bay, making mockery of blue night time, suggesting heat and sunshine and leisure that buzzing minds find unsettling.

On the last morning, we enjoy breakfast just the two of us and I listen to him buzz en Français as he swipes his blue card for another helping of meat and cheese. One of a hundred thousand times we will break bread. One of a hundred thousand times I will kiss him and mean it. I sip guava juice out of a blue box and we lie resplendent in the place for dreams, lofted above the blue ocean.

We leave by boat. Curls whip in the wind on each head as we stare across at green mountains and a frothing, churning sea. Today, the sea is rough, crooning a miserable blues melody, begging a piece of me to stay.

L’express des îles rocks toward home as the deck attracts the nauseous and adventurous in equal measure. We sit, sun burning copper cheeks, as French men mingle and a boy with his pants sitting at his knees leans against the railing. A blue Euro note floats to the ground and then a Caribbean breeze whisks it into the ocean. A missed opportunity.