On the Last Day of Vacation by Jenny Morse

On the Last Day of Vacation

Jenny Morse

“It all depends on counting,” she said.
“Counting up, counting down, counting days or nights,
or minutes; a culture of keeping track, of pretending
control, and here it seems longer because
I don’t think anyone’s counting.”
The muffled reply is sleep and sweat and
obligation, but she knows he understands anyway.
She would prefer he didn’t count, prefer
unlimited moments, time simply rising in
peaks out of the flat farmland.
They have an understanding: the way he replies
to her words mimes his reply to her body.
Last night she broke time, and now,
with the daylight, time breaks her.

“Yesterday I began to notice…” More
half-formed sounds communicating that half
a stifled attention is struggling to follow. “Yesterday
I noticed the little wrinkles forming on our
friends’ faces. Strange that we are so
young, so incredibly young, and the lines
that make us old are already appearing.
I began to imagine the wrinkles magnified:
one’s smile lines thick and heavy from
years of smiles; another’s crow’s feet,
intelligence pressed deep along his eyes;
and a furrowed brow for the scowler.”
An interjection—”I don’t have any wrinkles.
How did you picture me?” “Receding hairline.”

Strong motion holds her down, he smiles
grudgingly, no way out of that one.
Another giggle. He hops up and throws
open the curtain. Sunlight too bright
for the night presses in painfully. He
closes the curtain and stands over her.
“A beautiful day in Sevilla.” Mouths touch.
She takes the opportunity to open the curtain:
the sun not so painful this time. “How many
more days?” He says, grinning, “I don’t know.
I’m not counting.”

About the Author

Jenny Morse is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois—Chicago. In her free time she tries to travel as much as possible and will soon have visited all 50 U.S. states (at present, she’s reached 47). Her work has been published in Red ChinaSquare OneLowestoft Chronicle, and Notre Dame Review.