Friday, January 3, 2014

First Look

First Look

I need to see his face. This whole time I’ve seen the back of his head. Lumps of flesh packed together. Hands that seem older from afar, wrinkled, pockmarked, shaking if you look at them long enough. He favors one side when he walks, even as he stands his left side seems to sink into the sod.

He won’t turn around. Or maybe it’s the angles I’m watching him from. Never face on but from behind. Even when I feel like I catch up. My body speeding up to try and even get a profile view but in those moments he’s too quick. His head jerks away and I get a glimpse of a nose that may have been broken in a fight or two with a dent in the middle looking like a ridge in a mountain.

Wisps of white hair not even noting what was. So many parts I get to see but not the whole and I need to see his face.

He stands on the edge of the land with a jacket above his head. It’s not even raining so I don’t quite get it but he’s covering his face again. I can’t be sure. I can’t leave until I’m certain.

“We have to go,” she whispers behind me. I plant my feet down daring her to move me. She could, she could get the reserves to really but it’ll have to come to that.

I don’t turn to look at her. I feel the wind whip through me and see it push past him. His jacket waving like a flag beckoning the boats passing in the water. He stares ahead and I stare at him waiting, knowing he’ll have to make the slightest movement at some point and face me so I can see.

“You’ll have to trust me on this.”

That’s when I whip around to her and stare her right in those judgmental orbs she calls eyes trying to stare me down. “Why should I?”

“Because this is your—”

“Bullshit,” I spit at her and spit at the ground by her. She jumps back shocked. 

“You want us to stay in line and tell us and show us what you think we need to see. But I need to know for sure. I don’t trust you.”

Her eyes go thin. “You should. We know what’s best.”

I turn around. Refusing to get absorbed in those eyes in any way.

He heaves. His whole body seems to lift and lower on itself, as if adjusting for a better fit. He takes one step to the edge, another, and another shuffling as he goes, leaving tracks in the ground. With every inch he moves towards the edge I move closer to him.

“You can’t,” she says but I don’t listen. I keep sliding forward. My body light, airy, translucent to him but I refuse to let him go any further without confirmation.

“You can’t get involved!” her voice rises bordering on a yell until it’s a shriek of “You can’t!”

His head is down, the blazer completely covering him as a shell does a turtle. He moves like one, looks like one, is going to join the sea as if it’s his natural habitat but the bastard cannot end it before I get a look.

I rush on him reaching out as one foot hovers out like there’s an invisible step the other still planted on the ground. My hand goes through him but I keep trying. I’m swiping at air trying to keep his body from tipping forward and going into the sea. When he goes down it’s face first still. I throw myself off the edge along with him, my body floating than falling faster than his. I go through him, feel a sudden charge in myself as our bodies merge briefly during the fall and then turn around so that I can finally, finally view him face on.

Once again, it’s the eyes that get me. Not just the eyeballs but the skin around it. The scar above the eyebrow from the fight with one kid afterschool. The one gray/blue eye and the other green from the transplant after losing it but having given way worse than I got. There are more scratches, wounds, marks of a guy whose fights didn’t end in adolescence but carried over into adulthood.

It hits me how much things will have to change once the water pushes against my back, he and I hitting it with a smack at the same time. 
Photo byKostas Kitsos
Story by: Jenn Baker


  1. I completely love that last line. This needs to be a longer story, Jenn, I'm intrigued!

  2. I like this a lot. I'm not really sure what's happening, but it opens up my imagination for sure.

  3. Much belated thanks, ladies!

  4. Interesting. I'm with Amy. I'd like to see more.