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The Kiss

As he approaches today’s dead children Doodles McMaster closes his lips. His breaststroke forms a small bow wave which makes the dead children bob a little as he meets the first of their motionless bodies. Doodles puffs out his lips, then tightens and thins them. He presses forwards against the carpet of dead children. There are three thousand today, just as there are every day. Today’s corpses will join yesterday’s three thousand. Tomorrow’s will join today’s. There is no smell of putrefying flesh. The bodies are too fresh for that. Rigor mortis has set in, as swiftly as it always does, so much faster than you might imagine if you have no experience of the freshly deceased. The faces of the dead children are waxy and yellowish, resembling a fine olive oil. Doodles eyes twinkle as he glimpses Zoe. At first he could not see her. Zoe is just the other side of the three thousand dead children. She grins at Doodles and waves as he swims closer. The dead children do not upset her. Someone walking on her private beach at low tide upsets her, but the dead children are not a problem. They are there but they cause no real upset. They are quite a long way out and rarely come close. They never wash up on the shore or become entangled with the tasselled legs of the pier. Doodles cuts through the dead children, their bodies bumping against each other as they bob out of his way. Zoe blows him a kiss and Doodles winks back. Now he is through the last of the dead children and moving in towards the shore. Dripping, he runs out of the shallows. Zoe throws her arms around him. Seeing this, the witness shapes what he has seen into words. Doodles kissed married Zoe on a night out. Upper case, bold. The dead children are now so far away there is nothing to see. A faint shadow, a line at best. Most probably imaginary.

Ellis Sharp © 2005.


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