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December 28, 2020

The Community

K Chiucarello

I met Gwen after a hard right swipe on Tinder.  Through Gwen I met Wren. Gwen and Wren live above and below each other in an overflowing apartment building four blocks from my home.

Wren and I decide to go to the beach. I call up Dinah as I walk to Wren’s and invite her to join the trip, giving her our predicted coordinates (left of the lifeguard stand, towards the water; she knew the exact spot). Dinah dated my ex. Dinah ran into the same trouble as I had with said ex and left my ex, promptly contacting me so we could talk shit about who essentially was now our ex. It was an indisputable bond.

Dinah, Wren, and I go to the beach. At the beach, Sarah stumbles upon us. If you ask me, Sarah and I went on exactly one date that lasted 13 hours, making out in the end over whiskeys neat. Neither of us will ever confirm or deny whether it was an actual date we went on or whether we just hung out a few hours too long. Of course we are still extremely cordial, if not overly cordial, with one another whenever we see each other, which is now quite often.

Sarah joins us on our blanket as Dinah is telling of a date she went on with a new person she is very interested in, a rarity for Dinah. Sarah asks, oh is that RN? Dinah was baffled. It was. Sarah knew RN through their mutual friend Liza. Sarah, RN, and Liza are all playwrights. I had met Liza previous to Sarah and I going on our 13-hour disputable date.

RN told Liza who told Sarah about Dinah. And because Dinah is a unique name and Sarah met Dinah when I invited Natalie over to Dinah’s roof for fireworks and Natalie also brought Sarah, Sarah instantly knew it was my Dinah.

Dinah looks to me and I look at Sarah and Wren keeps her focus on the ocean in front of us. Dinah says, I’m going for a swim.

Sarah starts breaking down details of the play she’s writing (this play would go on to be plotted in New York Magazine’s highbrow/lowbrow matrix and reviewed in the Times; no one could deny it was simply an excellent play), when suddenly Wren asks, is Dinah ok? Sarah and I cup our hands to our eyes and say hmph at the commotion of waves being splashed up by Dinah’s arms flailing at sea. Wren declares she’s going to swim out to help Dinah.

Wren was an excellent swimmer. The night Wren and I had that threesome with Marina (boisterous and rowdy on the floor above Gwen’s apartment), Wren, after one too many sherry cocktails, detailed an explosion of her teenage years as a lifeguard in Montréal. For Wren, saving Dinah would be an effortless feat.

Sarah and I looked out towards Wren who was now also splashing more than expected and Sarah looked back to me and asked, what do we do? There was no moment to reply before Sarah bolted and flung her body far into the kaleidoscope gurgle of seafoam.

The gulls, a new kind of vulture, cawed and circled through the crystalline sky. Waves swaddled the shoreline. The ocean’s belly, a glitched cauldron full of township, sucked all three of them down –– that’s Dinah, Wren, and Sarah –– and I was left an island of my own.

It was a poor way to go.

The next summer I move 87 miles from this City and think thank God, a new pool of gays to rest in.

I go to the farmers’ market and I touch all of the greens – the kales, broccolis, the peppers, the mint, the cucumbers. A vendor and I agree yes yes this town is so special and no no we would never move to the other side of the river.

Suddenly there comes a hand on my shoulder, my name called out loud. When I turn it’s Liz. I went on two dates with Liz and she was so rude to our bartender that I deleted her number immediately upon home arrival. I say Liz! Hello! What are you doing here in this very small, very far away town from the larger, more obvious city we met in? And Liz says, I moved here two months ago; we should absolutely get together! We do a secret handshake and part ways, never to see each other again.