by Alexandra Comeaux
I had never kissed a boy in water before. The sensation of being held like this—
weightless and concentric, of moving as one against a current we could not detect,
chlorine clouding the depths beneath us, the vinyl of the safety markers puckered
along the deck’s bleached edge—no running—and the sun high on his concave chest,
barely sprouted, pressed to mine. We were nineteen and trembling with the gravity
of being that way, the knowledge that at any given moment, some other life—
perhaps even our real one—might appear in the wings of this staging, might take a seat
at the table we had laid out for it, might save us from the pains of all this practicing.
In his arms, I flapped mine. Like a giant wading bird, I watched the last leaves of summer
dunk and shudder under my swells. I told him about working night shifts in the emergency room,
the Mexican man who stumbled in before dawn— a gunshot wound to the palm,
a hole the size of a silver dollar, its edges so clean that you could see straight through—
and how when the trauma surgeon watching over him in the elevator up to the operating theatre
asked who had done this, the man had turned his face away, and said, simply, no one.
The boy I had now stopped kissing said that it was strange that I liked being in a place
where so many bad things happen, where people are rolled through doors in pieces
that cannot be put back together again— not without a scar, at least. He said this,
and then he pushed his own hand, whole and white and glistening,
under the soggy waistband of my bathing suit, and touched me where I had not
been touched before. I tried to pull away in urgent request—please, don’t—
but these words, when spoken in the language of men, were not quite enough.
He did what he did to me, and then he drove me home, holding me against him gently
in the front seat of his truck. I stood out on the curb, my mother waiting at the window
for me to come in for supper. Before he closed the car door, he told me to call again tomorrow,
and I did.