A Bittersweet Taste

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A suffering man experiences a momentary affinity to a young boy playing in the pool. But what caused the sudden empathy?

Submitted: January 14, 2013

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Submitted: January 14, 2013

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The heat had not yet broken. Going on the fifth day of the heat wave, it was as if the atmosphere had been cooked down and cooked down to a heavy sludge.
The area around the pool though was strangely empty. As a trickle of sweat made its way down his forehead, the man siting alone beneath the shade cloth thought that perhaps the people seeking refuge in the air conditioning had the right of it. But no matter, for this he'd prefer to be outside.
There was a book on the table next to him, but it was simply too hot to do anything other than sit. So he sat, like a lizard, moving only his eyes as he looked around him.
To his left were three or four glass topped tables, the kind intended for late afternoon nibbles, or evening cocktails. The bamboo mat shade cloth threw a lattice of shadows across the glass tops and the man spent several minutes tracing the turns and hatches with his eyes, trying to find a pattern. He couldn't.
He turned his attention to the pool. At the far end, a woman sat on one of the deckchairs watching a child, a little boy maybe 4 or 5 playing quietly int he shallows.
The boy seemed to be fascinated with the quicksilver shadows darting across his skin as he waved his arms this way and that way just below the surface of the water. The man too rested his gaze a while, taking some small enjoyment out of the shadowplay on the boys arms, on the floor and lower walls of the pool as ripple after ripple emanated from the boy, like parentheses, like the curve of a smile, like secrets.
Watching the boy watching the water, the man felt a kinship.
You and me, he thought, we're not so different. Maybe i started out like you.
A sudden gripping in his chest seized the man, Perhaps fear.
Or perhaps this was how it started.
I hope you don't turn out like me, thought the man. He willed the boy to hear this message, though the boy gave no sign and continued as he had been.
The pains in his chest intensified. This was definitely it.
He looked at his glass on the table- ice long melted, condensation long evaporated.
Was there a trace of powder still visible in the cup?
No matter.
The man turned his head and looked out over the coast.
He licked his lips. The bitter taste from the powder which lingered on his tongue mingled with the sugary remnants of his drink.
He felt the sun press against his face, a scent of hot metal began to fill his nostrils.
His vision began to blur.
He closed his eyes.


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