Like the Rock of Gibraltar

Sometimes there are ocean waves that look like dead men’s fingertips, beckoning. That’s probably why he jumped off that cliff last Sunday when he was supposed to be singing at church and smiling and, well, alive. At least that’s what the news reports say.

Because it couldn’t possibly have been the children in his third grade class who called him burnt toast, could it? Oh no, it couldn’t possibly have been when Samantha told him he belonged in the trash or when the school janitor used to come around and they’d tell him to mop away the spilt coffee before it leaves a stain.

You met him in high school and before the other kids could call him grizzly, you gathered up the bear traps and loved him. You swallowed the sea foam before they’d start to lure him with a single gesture, the same way death coaxed that man head first into jagged rocks.

It took you a while to realise he’s strong too. You both have gotten used to the young mothers whispering into their blue-eyed daughters’ ears whenever you passed by hand in hand. You’ve gotten used to the train journey stares with his warm hands on your hips. So when the next old white couple in the park comes up to you to ask why, just smile and kiss him long and hard until they go away. They always do.

—request

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