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Fiction

How to Enter the Ocean

Second in a series of short summer reads from Geist and The Tyee.

Rachel Knudsen 11 Jul 2007TheTyee.ca

"How to Enter the Ocean" won third prize in the 3rd Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest. The 4th annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest is open and accepting submissions now.

Rachel Knudsen is a documentary film researcher in Vancouver.

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'The lifeguard looked back at me and smiled. No, he said, we're not all the same.'

Last summer I fell in love with a lifeguard. He said, You can tell everything about a person by how they enter the ocean, so we sat all afternoon and watched fat mothers standing on the hot sand, boys playing water wars, couples strolling along the edge. The sun made me feel warm and tipsy. I laughed and said, It's funny how everyone is the same. I squinted my eyes and looked toward the other end of the beach, where my father stood in the water up to his stiff, tight calves, watching over my younger sisters. The lifeguard looked back at me and smiled. No, he said, we're not all the same. Everyone's very different, when you really think about it. When he turned around to look back at the waves, I could see every mole on his neck. His skin was a perfect olive brown. Later that night, a rock poked into my back as he kissed me, so we moved. We lay down on the sand. His long, rubbery body held me down and I felt as though I were being opened, as though a boy was being born in my heart. Now that the summer's over, everything has changed. I can't understand my mother and father at all any more, and my teachers seem unkind. Everything they say about everything is wrong.  [Tyee]

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