SPOOKY AT A DISTANCE It is an unremarkable Saturday, aswirl with the bluster of deep Wisconsin autumn, and, all decked out in business casual, I’m preparing to dive back into Lake Mendota. I’ve been diving all day, same as every other Saturday since Sarah. At the end of the pier, huddled beneath a woolen blanket, I am alone, but behind me looms the bustling lakeside terrace, where undergrads trade casual conversation and easy laughter over brightly colored tables, barely old enough to drink and far too young to be thankful. They have no use for the little path that winds down to where I sit amid curtains of spray torn ragged by the wind and a mist constant on the air and above, the dip and swirl of gulls. My button-down clings translucent, my khakis dark and sodden—no matter how I arrange my limbs, the fabrics bunch against my skin in heavy, seeping folds, but I don’t mind. It’s supposed to hurt, I tell myself. That’s how you know it’s working. Leveraging myself upright, I let the blanket slough to the deck atop my brownish, water-stained loafers. I shake the stiffness from my limbs, one by one, then step to the far edge of the pier, scooting out until the gold toes of my dress socks poke, dripping, into empty space. Wind swarms against me off the lake. I close my eyes, breathing deep and mindful, searching for a stillness that never comes. What a fool the terrace crowd must think me. Although I refuse to look their way—I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction—their attentions prick at my neck like feet across a grave and how can I blame them? It is strange, this thing I am doing. It is strange, and I know it is strange, but at least with Sarah gone, I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. So, we’re acting like a crazy person now, are we? comes a familiar voice on the wind. And to think, you’d always been so good with emotion.
D AV I D S A LT Z M A N