Before

As Ben breathed the chlorine smoke of his barren cigarette, its dwindling cherry chugged its own cloud to envelop his head. She’d told him to smoke his cigarette and then meet her on the hill that overlooked the bay, where they’d greet the sunrise with their truest moment. Ben released the harsh draft through his nose and knew by its taste that this cigarette was nearing its end.

She’d been quiet for years, but her solemn silence had flickered to light on this escaping night. Ben always felt an intoxicated air around her. A feeling in his chest, only when she was near, which escaped all too truly when they returned to their separate beds. Katey always slept so easily. He’d lay awake and think about his sore throat.

On that night he’d traded her his contemplative disposition for her carpe diem song. She was grim and silent, the illusion broken by his confession. They’d sat leaning against his car, shoulder to shoulder. (Ben presently reminded himself amidst his very near recollection to leave the keys on the dash for her when he was done. It couldn’t be 5 am yet. No one would be at the bay at this hour to steal them before she realized.) The line their shoulders created against each other formed the same drunken ’s’ that separated yin from yang. He’d smiled, released, at the wind tickling her mundane expression with her own curls. Katey wouldn’t meet his eyes. She’d only dropped her balled fist, slowly bringing it to rest over his open palm.

Ben sucked a final tug from the fag. It had tasted so stale, and was finally ripening. The wind cut ripples into the bay, making the reeds dance like beckoning fingers. A queer question, the wind blew.

Her body’d felt hot and vital against his, her lips shuttered, perhaps by the winds prompting as well.

She’d pulled back with tears in her eyes, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he pulled her in again. Her expression sank even further, pulling back again.

“Dont ruin it,” he’d placed a single finger to button her lips. Katey smiled, truthfully this time.

“Let’s go to the top of the hill while the sun comes up”

“After a cigarette,” he’d reasoned as she started up. Katey hated his smoking.

Ben walked the smoky butt to the water’s edge, the memory of her smile shiny and concrete in his mind. At this moment, she was probably rolling a joint for them to share in the red eyed rising sun. Ben’s bare toes swam in the welcoming water. He let the ruddy cherry extinguish itself on the water’s surface, as it fell from his hand. Ben dropped himself, reaching the water’s depth in which buoyancy sets in.

Ben walked into the water.

The new sun cast beams through its clear surface, which closed about his dusty crown with the grace of a mouth at rest.

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