The Napkin Project (Summer Vacation Edition): Laura van den Berg

a notebook with a pen and a pencil on a table
The Napkin Project: Laura van den BergPhilip Friedman


They had been best friends for decades. Every summer they took a trip. A cabin in the Oregon wilderness. A weekend in Mexico City. Hiking in Banff, where a hotel mix-up left them sharing a king bed. One of them—always a little melancholic—lay awake and listened to the other two mutter in their sleep. They all kept secrets from each other through the years, sometimes without even meaning to (one of them—always a little elusive—kept far more than the others.) This summer it was Belize, where it rained day and night. Eventually one of them—always a little restless—decided she could not stay inside for another second and ran into the ocean. She returned wet and gasping. “While I was underwater I felt something reach out and squeeze my hand.” The world is filled with things that cannot be explained. They were no longer young. One day something would happen to them and then these trips would probably stop. In Belize the rain fell hard on their last afternoon but they swam in the ocean anyway. Each of them underwater, waiting to be touched.

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