The Oasis Review

Lead Doesn’t Float

Dominic L. Ramirez, Student Submission

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It was cold the night I found it.


Cold, young, chaste, black, and blue – blue as the diamonds in the murky sky, puckered into its thin lips and frostbitten finger-tips.


…To tell the truth, I felt a little colder just looking at it.


According to the lore of the village, the boy who once wore this body belonged to a neglectful mother. A mother, one who laid by the lake’s tide with him one summer evening, lashes brushing up on her sunglasses and head resting into an extra bundle of towels as the sun tucked itself among the mountains behind her. According to that lore, misfortune struck like a viper. According to that lore, the mother blinked and the sun was back, full-bloodedly, bursting from the water’s horizon and daubing the sky in thick rays of honey-gold. According to that lore, the moon stole her son, her son as a part of the tide it played; sucked him deep into the murky sea waters while she slept.


According to that lore, her child was never seen again.


According to that lore, the mother bawled all day and all night for her lost baby boy, returning every summer to the pier to call out his name and to only be heard by her own echo.


But I’d know all too well that’s not where the tale ended.


The swarm of July’s unforgiving mosquitos and lightning bugs dragged me there, out of my stupor and into a ravine. The soil clinging to my bare toes was soft if it wasn’t liquid already and I sank a little with every step I took. Fresh out of a drought, the monsoons this time of year were fierce. Rocks were slick with rainwater, teaching me some hard lessons any time disorientation led my grip to a jut. By the time I debunked the myths haunting my hometown, I was knee-deep in mud and cuts, hair so caked that I could practically feel its dye melting out. My gown was irreversibly filthy, sticking to any estate of clear skin available. To say the road home was hellish would be a lie; at least it’d be sweeter than the beetles in my teeth.


And speaking of mouths: his was slack – jaw slack – broken. His chin could reach his throat, molars could overlap his earlobes. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was the beetles’ doing; the beetles and the worms and the maggots which had infested the hollow carcass of this rotten boy. A woman trusted Mother Nature with her only son as though she’d never see the remains of his baby blues between ten rodents’ teeth – ironic now, watching the rats skitter as I approached.


Because Mother Nature cares as much about man as man does about her;


Mother Nature doesn’t care at all.


Mother Nature doesn’t care about my baby boy, doesn’t care about his dead body, doesn’t care about the whispers of the town. Funny enough, she bathed his head of red in his organs’ froths, kinder than any parental figure he’d yet met. Mother Nature is cold like this – just like the wind biting my nose, just like the blue haunting his skin, just like the ice sharpening my heart.


…And, funny, how I did feel just a little colder looking at it.


Cold, cold as the water surrounding my feet, cold as the coke in my hand, cold as the words filling his lungs. Cold, because I don’t have the emotional capacity to be a mother – I’d just as soon abandon a boy as I would a broken toy. Cold, because I never loved him; I couldn’t love him if I tried. Cold, because I spent nine months waiting for this hellion to do me the indecency of being born only to realise I wish he never was. Cold, because I watched him drown from the pier, watched him thrash and choke and splutter, watched him drink his fate and ultimately become overwhelmed in the waves… And I didn’t have the slightest urge to dive in after him. Cold, because I must have cared enough about his life to let it destroy my body, but didn’t care enough to save it afterwards. Cold, because as I kneel into the mud, scoop this vestal corpse into my arms, and hold it against my body, it doesn’t faze me to say that I don’t regret a thing.


Cold, because as I held him in my arms so long ago, his tiny hand gripping my finger, it wasn’t hard to accept the fact I held no maternal connection to this being. Cold, because I feel no differently now.

 

I let that notion sink into my deadened empathy the way my feet sank into the earth, yet neither seemed to hold fast. So much for Mother Nature, who littered my existence with the very same life I’d soon litter her lakes with.

 

On the other hand, I can’t wholeheartedly say I’m upset. This corpse was a stranger, from the morning it was born to the midnight I found it. Maybe I didn’t mind enough to pick a personality from it, or maybe it never had one, but all it ever was to me was a clumsy humiliation. I was only allowed one child, so it’s a relief that’s as many as it took for me to learn I never wanted another. He shredded me, festered my vision, bled my innards, scarred my hips, burned my income, and twisted my stability. I was given one child, and I was expected after all of this inconvenience to care for it? Expected to love this thing which had ruined my body, mind, and wallet?


But ah, he’s just like his old man. Inept, doltish, markedly attractive, and too easy to sink in the end. He had the same devil’s curls and finicky mannerisms, yet he’d never questioned what happened to his father. Both dense – dense as lead – and so very aggravatingly foolish, but I suppose all traits in a man serve a purpose.


Lead doesn’t float.


And neither did he.

 

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Lead Doesn’t Float