I’m here on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, with three other members of the Trop collective—Evan Allgood, Roger Sollenberger, and William Torrey. We’re staying in a green house with a pink door that’s been in Roger’s family for a while. We’re here to spend two and a half weeks writing together, and we call the place Zoe House, after Roger’s aunt, who takes care of the property and gave us permission to use it.
This morning, I woke up at seven-thirty. I’m staying upstairs in one of the two bedrooms (Roger’s got the other). I lucked into landing one of the two rooms because I was late getting home on the first night, so I missed out on the bed selection process, and Will and Evan were too polite to take the bed for themselves, though Evan, who’s taller than the rest of us, claims he’d rather avoid going upstairs altogether, because the door to the stairway requires him to duck pretty low. Will and I are about the same height, though, so I imagine we’ll trade beds soon.
For now, Will’s sleeping on an air mattress in the living room, right at the foot of the stairs. When I came down this morning, he was asleep, wrapped head to toe in a green sheet. I’d compare his complete wrapping—the sheet covered even his face—to a body bag, except that I’m aware of a better if more obscure comparison—in Bangkok, homeless people sleep like this, on their backs, wrapped up tightly.
I also noticed that Will had switched directions on the bed. At first, he’d slept with his head by the wall and his feet in the middle of the room. Now, he had his head in the middle of the room and his feet by the wall. I don’t know why he switched, but I’m guessing it had to do with the AC unit plugged into the window above him.
In the morning, I try to get out of Zoe House to the coffee shop without talking to anyone. With Evan, this is easy—my routes to the kitchen, bathroom, and door don’t lead me past him (he’s on an air mattress in the other living room, and he, like Will, wraps himself completely in a green sheet—I don’t know if they conferred on this, or if one copied the other, or if both of them just happen to sleep like homeless Thai people). With Roger, this is easy too, because he’s in the other room, though I admit that, when I walk past, I glance his way. Usually, the half-open door allows me a view of Roger’s unmoving feet, and often, I make eye contact with his dog, Wendy, a black lab.
I try not to wake up Will when I walk past him, but sometimes, I do, and when I do, we whisper a few words to each other. We whisper “good morning,” but this isn’t your standard good morning. This is a Zoe House good morning, and written into our exchange is a separate message, that being “good luck.”
It’s extremely nice to be around people who want you to write, and care about your writing, and understand how it is to wake up and hope that when you open your laptop and lay yourself out, cut yourself open, perform your own living autopsy, you’ll discover something worthwhile.
Tom Dibblee is Trop’s editor. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and his nonfiction has appeared in Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Point. He lives in Los Angeles.