Five O’clock

Five O’clock

By Jackie Leavitt

From the car, I gaze at the dark scene flowing past the window of my rear passenger seat. In the front, Lars is driving his co-captain, Travis, to the airport so he can catch his early morning flight. The road curls along the coast of Trinidad, illuminated by the rental car headlights. Nearby, the sailboats’ anchor lights shine and hover as if forming a new star cluster in the passing harbors. And the Christmas tree–bright oil rigs and tug boats float in the inky black void where the sea and sky should be.

The cool wind flows in from my window and the front, whirling my hair around my face, which is turned to the masked landscape that slowly reveals itself in the gradually lightening dawn. The sun still lingers beyond the horizon, barely beginning to hint at its arrival, so that the sky holds the nighttime mystery of darker clouds in the lighter sky.

Slowly, colors and shapes emerge. Tall, limbless birch trees, poking from the horizon — as if burnt survivors left over from a fire — slowly reveal themselves to be white sailboat masts in the harbors. The ocean and heavens turn from black to gray to a soft blue-purple. The light bending around the dim earth turns both into a periwinkle blanket that stretches into the infinite distance. There is no border or edge between the two. The water holds no wrinkles or worries, and the air above is soft and gentle, foggy and unclear. Rather than holding their distinct and separate spheres, as they do during they day, now they fold into each other like two secret lovers, intermingled together as one in oblivious sleep, unaware of onlookers. Never have I seen so perfectly the melding of air into water.

It is a magical time. It is simultaneously day and night. It’s when opposites collide and fuse as one. It’s as if a sorcerer has overlapped time together, and worlds continue to swing past and swirl around each other without touching and almost unaware of one another. A young woman in a flowing silk dress strolls home from a long night out, while older folks in sweat clothes and sneakers begin their pre-dawn walking workout. The night owl meets the early bird, but both barely seem aware of the other realm into which they almost tread.

Even me — I’m barely aware this paradox. Except today I rose before the sun, only recognizing how close I was to daybreak because the clock on the wall told me. It’s actually five o’clock, but the inky blackness of the sky is complete. That is, until the hour passes, and we arrive at the airport as the sun rises in its brilliance. It lights the green land we drive past and awakens the water from the sky with wind-blown clouds, shimmering like mother of pearl.