Marie moved in with Jason exactly one week after they kissed in the parking lot. He helped her transport the heavy things from her apartment across town and since she gave a month’s notice it took exactly a month to move everything. Jason’s place was nice- it was very clean and tidy and he didn’t appear to have pee stains on the floor, like her last boyfriend. Jason even had the customary prayer flags hung. She knew he came from a respectable family.
There was a light breeze on that spring day when she moved the last box from her Subaru. A puff of air would touch one flag and the movement of one would pull the whole strand in a lazy, domino dance. His house, THEIR house, had a glorious view of the river and sometimes wild animals would cross the grassy field behind their place heading to the stand of forest on the other side of the neighboring farmer’s dirt road.
Though it was technically spring the trees were still bare of leaves. Marie liked the lichen-y cover that the loss of leaves revealed in the fall, though people in the town seemed united against the lichen. Marie had looked online -didn’t these people use their computers?- the lichen was harmless and only indicated good air quality. Oh well. Soon people would be too distracted by the wonders of summer to worry about lichen. But Marie thought about it all year.
Marie could feel the ground ready to erupt in a raucous display of life. She felt like if she put her ear to the ground that she would find out something she didn’t want to know. Sometimes she imagined a tiny insect and animal city underground with little bulldozers and shovels preparing for the surge of life from the plants roots. It had something to do with photosynthesis, she was sure, dormancy and something else but she slept through her science classes more often than not. The facts were elusive. However, she was perfectly aware that tiny shovels and bulldozers were in no way involved in the build up and eruption of Spring. She blamed Disney, or perhaps Pixar. She knew that if she put her ear to the ground the only result would be a wet ear.
The summer was brilliant, as they are, and made all the more exciting by new love. And as the couple settled into fall Marie noticed a change in the winds. They now came at the house directly from the West, straight off the river. The prayer flags would spend days aimed directly at the house, as if they were starched to attention or were held up by some horizontal gravitational force. Jason worked more at this time of year so nights when Marie was alone, with the windows rattling, front porch light illuminating the straight shot flags, she wondered if the prayers of the people across the river were getting stuck at her house. She started sweeping in front of the house, behind the flags, in an effort to dislodge any of the invisible prayers stuck there. There was no way to tell if she was making progress. Why would the wind not stop blowing? It seemed as if it had been going on for months. At some point she started smoking again from the loneliness and her low grade panic, but outside she could find no nook or cranny sheltered from the wind. She imagined the winter, with the snowdrifts and the cold rain. Surely she would stop smoking by then.
She did not stop smoking by winter. And the wind continued to blow, peeling the paint off the shutters and the trim, unraveling the flags thread by thread.