Hell is Empty and All the Devils are Here

To her pleasure, Kak found she could stop thinking about what lay behind her. The images faded. Of Andy Rosse Lane and the couple’s shower at the Temple house where young women went to lay their lives upon the altar of financial security. Of the Temple family picture hanging over the fireplace with everyone on the beach dressed identically in khakis and white cotton so that you could almost hear the starch crackling. It all dissolved as she steered the Jetta through the sweeping left that Captiva Drive made before it terminated at the bridge spanning Blind Pass. This was where Captiva ended and Sanibel began.

There had been a time when she could have driven over Blind Pass without needing a bridge because there had been a time when there had been no Blind Pass. The two islands were one until a 1926 hurricane clipped them in two like a giant pair of scissors, leaving the gap. Yet even as she zipped across it, the tide running through the pass worked to silt it in again and close it. She thought of the two islands as a couple pulled apart and eternally unsure if they wanted to hold hands again. You’re either scissors or silt, she told herself. If you chose to sever yourself from the world, you could find worse places to do it.

She followed the road as it swept right toward the sea, then straightened and bent left, carrying her away from the shore and out of sight the ocean. Five miles later Sanibel Captiva Road became Palm Ridge Road for a brief run south until it speared Periwinkle Way. Decision time. Left or right.

Right took her south to the beach where she’d met Rudy. It was curious how the passage of a single night had dulled her certainty. She’d been so sure he provided the means to move backwards to denial and avoid ending herself on the beach like a piece of drift. A broken shell. Here, in the coming morning light, it was ridiculous to think she could have avoided it.

But she couldn’t go right. Not yet. Evelyn and Stammer would be on the beach for an hour at least. It would be just her luck for Evelyn to happen onto her. No matter how remote the chance, Kak couldn’t bear the thought of her body being found that way. Of Evelyn standing over her. Murmuring her little oh. Calling Stammer over. No. Kak needed to waste time. She went left.

In the Sanibel Bean parking lot, she tipped the last of the Malbec into her mouth. She took out her Moleskine notebook and felt around for the pencil. She’d toyed with the idea of writing her farewell note in the sand. There was a certain poetry to a fleeting sentiment recorded on the beach, doomed to be swept away by wind and tide as all sentiments eventually must be. If she could write, she knew exactly what she’d say. Hell is empty and all the devils are here. Shakespeare had Ariel say it to Prospero in The Tempest. Kak felt that way many times in her young life but it had never rung so true as now. 

Her fingers found their way around the pencil, tracing its length down to the jagged tip. Like everything else in her life, it was broken.

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