Safe Distance


By this time, flames blocked every exit
from the mill, so Albert and Abner followed
the machinery into the drink. Abner checked it
by swimming deeper. Albert swallowed
brine and dogpaddled on the surface,
the wharf burning above him like a furnace.
Abner popped up again, and motioned toward
the open water. Albert grabbed a charred board,
and lurched after his brother. Mostly they floated.
Using lumber from the mill, they drifted
north with the current on a makeshift raft. Led
by the tide across an obsidian surface flooded
with stars, they watched the fires burn all night,
until they landed in Belltown, at first light.

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