f-tile300Would God Have a Beach House?

by Gabraella Wescott

Runestone, volume 6

Runestone, volume 6

Would God Have a Beach House?
by Gabraella Wescott

“When would you like to go?” the clerk asks, staring intently at me.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I lean forward on the polished white marble of the desk.

She doesn’t respond, the bow of her lips taut enough to loose an arrow to the sun. I glance around the room, but don’t take much in. I catch sight of a display case on the other side of the room, filled with mannequins whose faces were too familiar for comfort. I couldn’t place why. I turn back to the clerk, her bright eyes still trained on me.

“Did you hear my last question? How do I get home?” I ask.

Her automaton eyes stay locked on me, unwavering. I drop into one of the two chairs facing the desk and stare her down in return. There’s something in her eyes that feels inhuman. Maybe it’s the lack of blinking. Maybe it’s that she would look like me if I was a little bit older. But I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been here before, seen this scenario. The clerk looks familiar, like a distant relative in a family photo that I know I was close to, but I can’t think of her name.

“When would you like to go?” Her voice sounds human, made to blend in, but the tone is a flat replica of natural inflection.

“Have we met before? Because it feels like we have.”

No answer. I sigh and run my hands down my thighs, the soft denim alleviating the moisture gathering on my palms.

“When you say ‘when,’ you mean a time or a date, right?”

A beat passes.

“October 23, 1997.”

Her eyes glow electric blue. “Enjoy your trip.”



“When would you like to go?” The clerk is a man this time.

“Why am I here again?”

He blinks at me. At least they fixed that, whoever “they” are. There’s nothing recognizable about him, not like when I saw her last time. I sit again in a chair by the desk and look around. The room is a near-blinding white with veins of blue shooting through the arms and legs of the furniture. In the center of the room, three white cushioned arm chairs sit around a coffee table made of glass and blue metal, shimmering blue and white decorative plants like the ones my mother used to own stand tall against the white walls, and a large, blue scale portrait of a man with kind eyes and a striking likeness to the clerk stains the wall opposite of the desk like a fresh bruise.

“Who’s the guy on the wall?” I ask the clerk, turning back to him.

“When would you like to go?”

I study him for a moment longer and I pity him. Stuck in a room with no doors or windows, without anyone else, and only able to say the same nine words over and over.

“January 1, 2000.”

His eyes glow electric blue. “Enjoy your trip.”



“When would you like to go?” he asks.

I’ve aged, but he looks exactly the same. The room is the same as well, but the portrait of the man is gone. A display case sits on the floor, flush against the wall, in its stead. A small collection of stuffed animals from my childhood sit on glass shelves inside, mixed with ones I’ve never seen before, but feel familiar. The cotton candy blue, micro bead-filled puppy stares back at me from its glass cage. I can feel the beads under the smooth fabric in my hands as my father, a face I can’t quite recall, smiles down at me. The last time I saw Slushie, so lovingly named for my favorite blue raspberry slushies, he stared at me through pink-tinted plastic long forgotten a corner of the basement. I run my hands on the cushion of one of the chairs near the desk, wanting the soft microbeads molding under my fingertips again. I look back at the clerk, who has had his eyes trained on me the entire time.

“Why do I never remember coming here?” I ask, taking my usual seat.

He stares at me blankly, but I’m not surprised or angry anymore. That doesn’t stop the questions that fall off the tip of my tongue.

“Where am I?”

He blinks as if the motion would remedy the situation.

“What is this place? Why do I keep coming back?”

His synthetic face gives nothing away; no twitch in his eye, no stuttered breaths, nothing. But those weren’t the important questions.

“The things on the wall–the portrait, the stuffed animals–they’re from my life.” I pause for a reply that won’t come. “Why are they here? I don’t even recognize most of it.”

His face remains calm, but I see his shoulders stiffen.

“I’m on the right track?”

“When–” He has to clear his throat. “When would you like to go?”

I look at him in shock, but I don’t address the stutter. It feels like he might break if I do.

“May 21, 2011.”

His eyes glow electric blue. “Enjoy your trip.”



“When would you–”

“I have this weird dream every once in a while.”

He seems like he wants to continue, but thinks better of it and keeps his mouth closed. I sit in a chair by the coffee table this time and wave him over to me. He reluctantly stands and walks over to me. He sits down in the chair opposite of mine, his movement too fluid for a human. I have half a mind to ask what he is, but I know he won’t answer.

“I’m there, and you’re there, but I’m not me. And you’re not you. It’s like we’re each other.” I pause to observe his reaction, but he continues to sit pin-straight, his hands resting flat on his legs. “In the dream you’re human–vibrant and full of emotion–and so am I. I think. It at least feels like we are. We’re friends. Maybe more than that. I don’t know, I feel like I know you.” I look up to the wall again, a landscape in the same blue tones as the painting before it depicting a hospital hallway. I clear the pseudo-smell of antiseptic from my nose with a loud sniffle and turn back to the clerk. “What about you?”

“When would you like to go?”


“Response invalid, try again.” His hands tremble as he speaks.

I laugh, spite rising in my throat like burning bile.

“So you can say something other than ‘when would you like to go,’ and ‘enjoy your trip.’ Funny.”

He clears his throat and straightens his posture, which had slipped while I spoke.

“When would you like to go?”

“The paintings, the display case from before–they’re all telling some story of my life. Why?”

“When would you like to go?”

I sigh and look at the painting again, knowing one of the doors down that hallway has my name on it.

“June 9, 2019.”

He hesitates. “Enjoy your trip.”



There’s no clerk behind the desk this time. There’s no desk. The previously sterile walls glow a light orange, the furniture in the center of the room is now rustic wood-framed chairs and a couch with blue, overstuffed cushions, and the decorative plants are green and white peace lilies in wicker wrapped pots.

I walk the edges of the room, ghosting my fingers over the polished surface of the cabinet against the far wall that would have stood opposite of a desk in another time. Pictures of my life–lives–in a menagerie of frames clutter the desk, like the one at my grandmother’s home. I take a deep breath. It smelled like a summer day that was warm enough to go swimming, but cool enough to go to the park and throw a Frisbee. Fresh cut grass and chlorine washing through the underwater jets in the deep end.

I pick up a smaller frame, two people smiling back at me. I could tell one was me, but the other was the first clerk, the woman I couldn’t seem to remember. Like waves on the beach, rolling in from the vast ocean, memories begin to wash ashore. I grip the photo frame tighter as days on the hot summer sand, cool nights that smell of fresh linen and sparkling pear Riesling, a hundred years’ worth of laughter paired with the sadness of a fleeting lifetime, and a need to forget and live among what I facilitated, creating my own temporary life over and over and over again, washes in and out with the tide.

A breeze carrying coconut and sea salt wafts through the floor to ceiling windows on either side of the room, rippling through the sheer curtains. I think of taking a seat when the door on the other side of the room opens with a light click. I don’t turn away from the pictures or open my eyes as he approaches me and stops a few feet away.

“Welcome back.” He says, his voice trembling.

Gabraella Wescott

SUNY Plattsburgh

Gabraella Wescott is a senior at SUNY Plattsburgh majoring in English: Language Arts. She has worked as Editor-in-Chief of the on-campus literary magazine, North Star, and hopes to become a teacher and start a literary magazine at her own school.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This