“This is the place your brother drowned,” Mom said, pointing out towards the ocean. We were down in Florida, and Jeremy had died off Cape Cod. The water wasn’t even the same color. But Mom was right too; it was still the Atlantic Ocean.
After Jeremy drowned, Mom took to kissing. She kissed my forehead a dozen times a day, but she also kissed her sandwiches before she ate them, the light switch when she flicked it on, the dishwasher after it stopped running.
As we walked along the beach in Sarasota, Mom kissed rocks, seashells, a Coke can. She plucked a starfish from a tide pool. It was missing a leg, was a four-pointed star with a nub.
“That will grow back,” she said, bringing its white belly to her lips.
Annie Hartnett lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with an exceptional border collie. She has stories published or forthcoming in Indiana Review, PANK Magazine and NANO Fiction, among others places.