Dawn Breaks Everything
By Simon Langham
“It’s a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning,” he says aloud,
High tide attacks the beach, scooping away wide berths of sand, chases the
The half-dozen divas, that’s what he calls them, are laughing together at
“Look at that. Did you see them?” Chance points with a dismissing gesture.
“Are you talking to me?” The man on the log looks up from the box in his hand.
“The surf divas. Why do they do that?” Chance sits on the log at what he considers a macho distance from the man with the box. He pulls a coin out of his pocket and proceeds to make it appear and disappear as he shifts it from palm to palm.
“Surf?” The man answers after spotting the group of surfers in the water. Then he goes back to turning the box.
“Hang out in groups, like flocks, look like they’re having more fun without you?” Chance puts the coin back in his shorts pocket.
“I don’t know.” The young man looks up the beach, opens the box and stares
Chance looks him over: the guy’s nose is a peeling mess; streaks of red skin wrap around his shoulders where the sun block missed; his wide-brimmed straw hat has one of those girlish tassels in the back he obviously bought off one of the beach vendors. They couldn’t look more different, Chance brown as a local and this red and white hombre looking fragile as the tissue paper hanging from wires above the cobblestone streets. This poor guy doesn’t have a clue.
“It’s because all women are lesbians.” Chance answers his own question. "All women would prefer living in a harem.”
The young man palms the closed box and reaches out his other hand. “Have we met? I’m Tony Nicely.”
“Chance, Chance Rocket.” He strokes his stubble with the back of his fingers
“We watch the same movies.” Tony quickly injects. “We don’t read the same
The first hour of the morning ends, the hour that has no need for shade. The
“If they’re not all lesbians they are at least all bisexual and don’t like men. Let me see that.” Chance points to Tony’s closed palm.
Tony reluctantly hands Chance the ring box and digs at the sand with his sandals. Chance opens the box and reveals the engagement ring. Shakes his head at the ring.
“Shit, Nicely. Shit.” Then he shakes his head at Tony. Over the sound of the
“And they leave their hair everywhere. My wife and that blow-dryer, the
bathroom was fucking gross. If I could get in the bathroom. And whenever I
“I... I don’t know.” Tony looks up the deserted beach again. The fisherman has
given up teasing the surf with his pole. He throws his bait to the pelicans
“And monogamy, like with marriage,” Chance gestures with the box. “Causes
“Where’d you hear that?” Tony sits up on the log and reaches out for the box.
“A study, a study on a bunch of gorillas.” Chance takes the ring from the box. “Promiscuity causes the opposite.”
“Gorillas! Not all marriages are like… Give me back the ring,” he says as a
“Maybe they’ll clean for you once in a while. But trust me, it’s too complicated.”
“Can I have my—”
“I got it figured out finally. Why men are so open, giving, quick to share what they have, and women are so selfish and possessive. Like my wife, I couldn’t sip out of her glass, or take a bite of food off her plate. It all has to do with reproductive tendencies. With men—”
“Give me the ring.” Tony does a controlled rise from the log and holds out his hand to Chance. Chance gives him the dismissive gesture and continues with his theory.
“With men it’s to spread their semen, let it go, loose, fly. A woman’s reproductive tendency is to trap, keep, hold on to. My wife ordered à la carte at Chinese restaurants instead of sharing. No species can get around their reproductive tendencies, Nicely. You’ve got to return that ring.”
“Put it back in the box and give it to me, give me the ring.”
“Sure, sure. You want to know why we’re deep in discussion like this?”
“Because we’re not deep in pussy.” He snaps the box shut.
Who the hell do you think—” He lunges for the box.
“You’re going to thank me for this.” Chance dodges Tony’s lunge and pitches
“What the hell!” Tony yells as he runs to the water’s edge. He charges into the surf with his knees lifted high as if the water is going to be cold.
Chance hollers to him over the sound of the breaking wave against the beach. “Sometimes you don’t feel like washing your damn dish right then. You know what she calls me now? Her wasband! We haven’t even signed the papers.”
The wave breaks and recedes revealing the ring box half buried in the sand
“Get down here and help me, Rocket. The ring—” The next wave sweeps into
“You don’t get it, Nicely.” Chance yells back then turns away from the water. You can get away with any thing in Mexico. Personal freedoms abound.
Maybe Chance will never go back to the states, maybe become an ex-patriot
“What’s he doing?” She asks Chance. He gives her a very quick but complete once over. Kind of boyish looking female he assesses, but okay.
“You know him?
“Sure, he’s my boyfriend. I’m Lindsey.”
Chance looks with longing at the two beers in her hands, the brown bottles
“Rocket, get down here!” Tony yells again with his back to the beach.
“What does that mean?” Lindsey asks and takes a swig from one of the beers.
“In Alaska, for instance, you’re probably a ten. But here on the beach…”
“Hey Tony!” She yells to him and he notices her for the first time. She waves then turns back to Chance. “You’re weird.” He stares intently at the beers. “Would you like a beer?”
“Really? You don’t mind sharing? Just a sip?” He takes the beer and a long
Tony backs out of the beach break, keeps his eyes on the next wave, his
“You have girl parties?”
“No blow-dryer. Yes Chinese. No, no girl parties. I have five brothers. You ask the strangest—”
“My penis…” He spits the word.
“What about your penis?” She asks but doesn’t look at his crotch. When he
Chance walks down to meet Tony and says quietly to himself, “That’s nice.
Tony throws his hat down and Chance figures those curls on his head are so
tight they don’t even get wet. It Tony didn’t look so stupid, Chance would
“You owe me a ring…I’ll never find…We’ll never…I can’t believe…”
Chance points back at Lindsey with his beer bottle. “Hey, future ex, come
down here. Tony’s got something to show you.” Then to Tony, “She’s nice,
“What am I supposed to show her? An empty soggy box?”
Lindsey joins them and slips her arm around Tony. “What’s in the box, Tony?”
“It was supposed to—”
“We have a surprise for you, Lindsey.” Chance cuts in.
“What do you mean, we? You shit head!”
“Let me see that?” Lindsey takes the misshapen box out of Tony’s hand and
“Tony lost it in the surf. He wanted to propose but the dawn breaks
Tony makes a move towards Chance, away from Lindsey. “Shut up, Rocket.
“Oh, let me do it.” Chance says stepping between them. He takes Lindsey’s
Simon Langham is a published poet, a produced playwright, and a disillusioned physician now handcrafting yurts on the coast of Alaska. Her short
fiction appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of the South Dakota Review "Dawn Breaks Everything" received honorable mention in the Radical Arts
for Women Short Fiction Contest.
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