Aiming for a creative life

I Am Santo

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The ripples cast across the inlet at dusk weren’t caused by anything dropped into the water, but it still made Karin think about Joseph. Wind dragging the water into fingerprint ridges, she pictured how his body was pulled from the ocean, lifeless, likely bloated and pale. She didn’t really know him; he’d left high school Junior year but they’d stopped talking after breaking up as summer arrived Freshman year. Still, she remembered vividly the taste of him and the feel of his full, wide lips. He’d had the kind of smile you could see from all the way down the hallway at school, one that easily shined brighter than the dim overhead fluorescents, and his laugh peeled off like onion, stronger and stronger until tears filled his eyes. He tasted like whatever minty gum cut he’d popped into his mouth before they kissed, but that was cut by a subtle saltiness that was him. She wondered now if it was a foreshadowing of his surrender to the sea, if his saliva was seasoned by this fate rejoining him to where he’d come from, where he belonged. That long kiss in the hallway, though; it haunted her even before she’d heard from Diana and Connie that Joseph died. But now everything was in question and felt larger in meaning. His choice of a faded blue iris for their first date that was the color of the ocean and the loose way he held her hand as they walked together down the street, almost as if he weren’t real, a ghost biding his time. Karin looked through each memory shared and could feel his end somewhere in all of it, but what distressed her was that there wasn’t any meaning. Staring at the wind-whipped surface of the water gleaming against the late day sun, she saw no cause and effect happening now or then. They’d smiled, laughed, kissed and then stopped without a word when the school year ended, going separate ways. None of it mattering, she felt immune to the sticky sorrows she believed most would feel, the first boy she kissed like these ripples in the water, like anyone and everyone: temporary and vanishing. Karin didn’t cry. She didn’t feel anything but the breeze, tasting a slight saltiness in the air.

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