Water/The Smallest Ocean

Water/The Smallest Ocean

1.

In middle school biology, we were taught that the human body is 72.8% water. It was the end of the hour, at the lockers, it was all we could talk about. My friend Brittney asked, ‘how much blood do you think we have?’ Jenny suggested that Jordan, the heaviest kid in the class, might be 90% water. Somebody had the good sense to tell her that that’s not how it works. I was 13, and for the first time I understood why I always felt like I was drowning.

2.

After the movie, she turns to me. Her softball glove is lying in the corner. I have never been in this room before. She is 20 years old, wearing footie pajamas with glow-in-the-dark stars in the knees, has wrapped herself in a fleece tied blanket, and there are tears in her eyes. She asks me if life was futile, interrupts herself, and apologizes for crying. I do not hold her. I do not touch her. I sleep on the bottom bunk, make eggs and coffee for breakfast, and leave while she is in the shower. Before I go, I write a note that reads, ‘They tell us that the people we love are 72.8% water. There is no such thing as crying, we are only trying to turn ourselves inside out, and that is a noble pursuit.’

3.

We are in her bed again. We have been here so many times before, we’re close enough to breathe for each other. It is quiet. This moment is always quiet, and suddenly I find myself wanting to say ‘I am sorry because I am the smallest ocean, and you are the saddest moon.’ If we were closer in this moment, this moment, like a hundred other moments, I would tell her that there is so many things happening beneath my surface she could not possible see them so far away. I would remind her of divers. Remind her that if they rise too fast, their chest cavities will burst, lungs too excited to shout the things they have seen below. I would tell her that if not for gravity, I would reach out to her. I would shift and sway and leap toward her, cover her in stories of islands that no one is looking for. I would let her reach into me and touch dozens of rushing currents, show her that if she looks deep enough, there are creatures that over the course of millions of years have taught themselves to glow. I would let her reach into me and see that somewhere beneath all this heavy, there must be light. I should tell her all of this, but this moment is always so quiet. And I am sorry because I am the smallest ocean. I am so much water, but no warmth.

— Lewis Mundt

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