That was the summer the waters in the lagoon swelled, and the gnats and mosquitoes swarmed in black clouds. We would sit on the beach in his rusty lawn chairs, the nylon threads turning white before snapping. We drank cases of beer, first cold and then no longer cold and then warm, out of cans hidden in paper bags, and the bug bites popped red on our heels. The day turned into night, and we rolled from the chairs onto the sand, not really minding the bugs, and I whispered to him, “I love you,” for the very first time, and I meant it.
I thought I meant it.
The days grew shorter ad the mosquito bites healed. That was the winter the kelp uprooted itself, splaying on the sand in rusty, rotting piles, making the beach stink of death. We went down there one night, hopeful, but I could only stand it for ten minutes. Right before we left — he didn’t want us to go — I said to him, “It just seems like the ocean is trying to get at us,” and he smiled at me like I was a morbid and silly child. He was one of those that came here from somewhere else, and saw everything as great, waking just about every day to declare it a beautiful morning. Fuck California, I said under my breath. And also: fuck you.
Black Cloud is a book by Juliet Escoria. It was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2014. Black Cloud is 144 pages.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
It’s twelve short stories about the same character.
The Other Kind of Magic: A woman gets a job in Manhattan doing coat check. She starts cheating on her boyfriend with one of the owners.
The Sharpest Part of Her: A story about being raised by a single mom who is a drug addict. The mother was a model, but drugs destroys her good looks, and her addiction eventually drives her daughter away.
Trouble and Troubledness: A story about being a teenager and doing lots of drugs and drinking, cutting yourself, being suicidal, and being prescribed tons of medication by doctors. ‘I just wanted to be left alone to hurt.’
A lot of these stories have descriptions of either the sunset or sunrise, and the first thing that comes to mind when I think about this book is that weird kind of sunset half-light, which is often very beautiful and mysterious. I also think about the kind of half-light that fills trashed-out rooms where people do drugs, which is much less beautiful.
This is a good book to read all at once — it’s not long, and the stories are easy to read and not boring. You can read the whole book in a couple hours. There are a lot of beautiful sentences and paragraphs in this book.
This book made me feel very sad at parts, and made me think about people I’ve known who got deep into drugs and never got out again. ‘The Sharpest Part of Her’ was the saddest story in the book to me, because it reminded me of kids I’ve worked with whose parents are drug addicts.
The book also has hope in it though — the character eventually gets clean. She is a survivor, and that makes me feel hopeful.
Escoria made a video for each story in the book, which I like — adds another kind of texture to the book, some visuals to carry in your mind while you read. I especially liked this video for Reduction
buy Black Cloud here