JOEY CIFELLI ’23
They stood on the edge of the lake, the two of them, skipping stones. She was in the process of finding a suitable one when he handed a stone to her. “This’ll go to the other side,” he said, “I found a bunch in this little crevice, or is it crevasse.” He shrugged and went back to sifting through a jumble of rocks, crouched on his feet. She gripped the stone and flipped it a few times in her palm. It was smooth, and flat, and the edges curved to meet one another evenly. She kicked her knee up and let the disc fly from her fingertips. One, two, threefourfivesxsvn dips in the water and then near-infinite splashes in the moment before the stone dropped below the surface
He saw from low on the ground and whistled through his teeth, and said “one day we’re going to run out of rocks, and then people will look at the island in the middle of the lake and wonder how it got there. They’ll think they missed some kind of eruption.” She put a hand on her shoulder and stretched out her throwing arm, slowly, in wide circles.
“If my arm isn’t gone, maybe,” she said, and then smiled, “but then maybe I’d just have to use my left. And then they’ll wonder if there didn’t used to be a lake here at all.”
The fog came overnight. In the morning the city populace assumed they had woken up early. The sky was as dark as night, and the stars, which were normally visible even through the industrial haze, just slightly, were absent. The mayor called an emergency meeting of the city council. The council members came as fast as they could, which ultimately was rather slow because they kept bumping into street signs and walls on the way to the mayor’s house. The mayor was furious. “Explain this!” he shouted. “I want to know who’s responsible!” The city librarian, who was the de facto expert in these things, pushed his wire frames further up on his nose. He explained, “ahum, Sir, there’s uh, clearly been some sort of atmospheric anomaly which would explain the fog and therefore the uh howdoyousay impenetrable darkness.”
“And!” said the mayor, now pacing around the room and waving his hands as if strangling an invisible bird. “How is that supposed to fix anything? The people expect me to deal with this, you know. It’s a crisis. Anyone, any solutions?” Now the city clerk, being one of the shrewder members of the council, made a suggestion. “Well, Mr. Mayor, what if the fog wasn’t a crisis at all? In fact, what if it was just the opposite. Imagine we tell the populace the city has elected to skip, what is it, Thursday? We say the day’s already gone, it’s Thursday night. Bureaucratic, yes, but preferable to inexplicable phenomena. And no one blames you, Sir. They didn’t have to work today, after all.” The mayor held his hand on his chin and considered the ploy. “Very well,” he said after some pause, “but while we’re at it let’s rig some voting machines.” And so it came to pass that the citizenry had been granted a temporal holiday, and crowds cheered for the ingenuity and thoughtfulness of their mayor, who just so happened to win in a landslide next election.