The Ocean Next Door

Ben Loory

Summer 2017

One night, the woman has a dream that the ocean moves in next door. She can see it in there rolling around, as she stares out the window across the hedge. Somehow the ocean’s all lit up from below—light’s sparkling through the clear blue waves—and the white-capped peaks are moving back and forth.

And then the woman wakes up.

Oh, the woman says, quietly to herself, as she lies there in the dark.

After a while, she looks over at her husband. He’s sleeping. Slowly, she sits up.

She gets out of bed and pads into the kitchen and pours herself a glass of water.

She peers out the window at the house next door. It sold months ago, but no one’s moved in yet.

Honey? says a voice.

The woman turns to see her husband standing in the doorway. He’s wrapping his robe about himself.

Is everything okay? he says.

Oh yes, says the woman. It’s just, I had a dream. I dreamt the ocean moved in next door.

The ocean, he says. I wonder what that means. Maybe you should go to the beach.

The woman smiles, and her husband smiles too.

I’ll make you breakfast, she says.

He gives her a kiss and heads for the shower.

She makes coffee and toast and fries an egg.

But really, you know, her husband says—finishing his piece of toast—maybe you really should go to the beach? After all, that’s what retirement’s about.

I know, says the woman.

She sips her coffee.

Maybe I will, she says.

And after a while, she gives a nod.

It might be fun, she adds.

So after her husband has headed off to work, she goes and digs out her bathing suit. She packs it in a bag with a towel and a book, grabs her sunglasses, and gets in the car.

Ben Loory is the author of the collections "Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day" and "Tales of Falling and Flying," as well as a picture book for children, "The Baseball Player and the Walrus." His fables and tales have appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Gargoyle Magazine, and The Antioch Review, and been heard on This American Life and Selected Shorts.

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