One day before his surfing lesson my son noticed the floating corpse of a seagull. Said that he’d try and save it but it was already dead. He couldn’t stop shivering in the car after his lesson that day, so I cranked up the Steely Dan, and promised him we were almost home, even though we weren’t. He wouldn’t remove his wetsuit in front of the other kids, so he wore it wet, all the way. I brought chocolate covered apricots to keep his energy up that day, but really, I was eating them for him.
When the phone rang my boy was nowhere to be seen. I was standing on a cliff, watching with my eye on a spot inside the water. The spot seemed to be glittering, like a seal or a rock. Truth be told, the days following my divorce were like this, dreamy and dense, the boy growing sweeter, memories of his father growing duller. The person who was calling to tell me something I didn’t want to hear had the voice of a crow. Hello? I said to the phone, and before they could say anything, I hung up on them.
I remembered a pop psychology quiz we took, when the boy’s father and I were together. A quiz about what it took to make a marriage healthy. He looked over at our boy, and he said, ‘how about a healthier-looking child’, and this is how I refuse to remember it.
That day he admitted that he felt too large for the water, but I knew how he loved the waves, that they might revive him, enrolled him in surfing camp even though I couldn’t afford it. “Don’t worry so much about me,” he said, heading out toward the seals. I tried to spot him from the cliff where I stood watching black dots of children, but I couldn’t recognize my own boy bobbing around in the froth, as seagulls pecked at my bones.