I am eighteen on a beach in Massachusetts, walking with a boy. I wear long hair and a tank top and a brace on my leg. I laugh often and loud.
We pick our way over the rocks and I see it, there, a fish caught in the tidepools. His lips open and close but he can’t take in air.
The boy will remember that I walk down the beach, looking for a stick to move the fish. To rescue it. Of course, I can’t actually touch the fish, because it might get me sick, too. Such are the workings of an over-active mind.
Still. I find a piece of driftwood, and slide the fish onto it. Together we throw him, ungracefully, out to sea. I want, I want, I want for him to swim.
Later that night, the boy will kiss me on his bed. And later still, we will fall in love. I will move across the country for him. I will marry him on a cliff overlooking the sea.
But that day, on the beach it’s just me, trying past reason to fix what cannot be fixed. To buy a little more time, to heal the things beyond saving.
There are things I can’t change, I know, but I am still learning my lesson so many years later. There are too many tidepools, it is such a big sea.