The funniest thing I ever said was: I feel like I’m falling into a black hole.
We were in the conga line when I said it. My hands were on your hips. The DJ had just dropped Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca. The guy behind me laughed first and then the woman behind him chuckled, her teeth sparkling under the disco lights. They were Canadian. I must’ve said it really loudly.
You didn’t look around. I knew you were smiling, though. This was the grand tour; our retirement hinged on this. A cruise for six months, and we were in the crystalline waters of Tonga. On our way to Tahiti. On our way to paradise.
The Tongans have a saying: Awumwi ulanzembelo yakwe.
Each and everyone has a different war dance.
I feel like I’m falling into a black hole, I shouted again as the chorus crescendoed. I feel like I’m getting sucked into oblivion.
At the end of the song, the conga line broke and the revelers dispersed, happy and smiling, some still kicking legs out side to side.
The ship bobbed in the nighttime harbor at Nuku’alofa. The gentle slap-slap of waves on the hull.
I got you a drink, a Tequila Sunrise.
You stared into it, delighted by the blend of orange juice and grenadine, the melange of color and viscosity, the whole shebang.
The Canadian couple raised their glasses at a table on the other side of the room, still laughing.
The woman mouthed, Black Hole, slowly and deliberately, so that we could read her lips.
So that everyone could read her lips.
I mouthed back: Oblivion.
Jonathan Cardew’s fiction appears in Cincinnati Review, Passages North, Cream City Review, wigleaf, Smokelong Quarterly, and others. His chapbook, A World Beyond Cardboard, will be published in 2022 (ELJ Editions). He lives in Milwaukee, Wis.