Stonehenge / Pacifica
Marianne Villanueva

There must have been a significant improvement in the human lot by the middle of the 3rd millenium BC when, on current evidence, it appears that the first of the stones arrived.


It was a dream I had, some restless night. One of those weeks or months or years when we were worried about money.

But when were we ever not worried?

First there was the mortgage, and then the two. 

And then your mother got sick, and your father died. 

And my mother I think developed Alzheimer's, but we never mentioned it.

And then one night, after we'd fallen dead asleep, I can’t recall whether from exhaustion or worry—you were in the big bed but I was on the sofa, and the twins somewhere else—I saw it.

We were together in a white car heading north. The road may have been the Coast Highway. The ocean was to our left, rocky cliffs to our right. It was a cold and windy day, the car pulled slightly to the left with each turn, the sky was filled with rainclouds. 

Suddenly, you pointed at something on the water. I followed the line of your pointing finger but saw nothing, only the foam of the waves as they reached the rocks.

You shook your head, impatient. I knew this gesture. I felt diminished. My eyes ached to see.

I rolled down my window and looked again.

Then, I saw it. Rising at the tip of your finger, as though you had conjured it. 

The whole rose slowly, majestically, from the waves. I had seen this stone monument before, in a photograph in some book. Water sluiced over the massive grey stones, which had a greenish tinge, as though layered with many centuries of moss. The mighty pillars were pitted with hollows. Creatures very old must once have been cradled there. The water beneath was roiling and dark. And now the sea opened up a channel, directly from the monument to the shore.

My dream self looked and looked at this monument, shrouded in mist, lashed by rain. How did you get here? I whispered.  I was amazed.

Dreams, I know, are Gordian knots.

The next day, my father unexpectedly invited us to lunch. We decided to accept his invitation, though it meant much calling to find a sitter available on such short notice.

We met my father at the Cliff House. He was with a beautiful woman, much younger than my mother, with strawberry blonde hair and striking blue eyes. It's no use pretending anymore, my father said. I've lived a terrible lie for 10 years. The woman's name was Heidi. She lived in Falls Church, Virginia. She had met my father at an art exhibit. 

Heidi said she had a present for me. She reached into her tote and pulled out a book. The title was: Solving Stonehenge. "From both of us," my father said, a hint of pride in his voice, patting Heidi's hand, his gnarled old one covering hers like a claw.

So this was what happened next: my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We didn't expect him to go as quickly as he did. We saw Heidi at the funeral, but after that, never again. I imagine she returned to Virginia. Or maybe she moved to some much nicer place, like Rancho Mirage. 

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Her memory had begun to unravel long, long before. It was good to know.

We remained together, you and I.

We decided to sell our house and move to a smaller city in central California. The packing up of old things was hard. Harder still was leaving the coast.

Every now and then, I drive. I look for water. I look for magic.

Marianne Villanueva lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent collection of stories is MAYOR OF THE ROSES (Miami University Press Fiction Series).

Detail of photo art courtesy of vintage dept.

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