local_library Water by Day—Fire by Night

by Klae Bainter

Published in Issue No. 256 ~ September, 2018

Some of us still had parents but we stopped fearing them and would often disappear for days without word. When spring arrived, leaves would leap up trees and cover The Cove from the outside world. Young figures, fierce with angst, would strip to swim, or fuck and come on the billions of broken zebra mussel bodies that make up the gray sand.


A sun growing higher and hotter and older watching us blister beneath it while taking our summer spoils. A mescaline ten-strip, split two ways—two kids– each with two paisley eyes. The psychedelic era suddenly made sense.

There were only a couple of ways into this beach; a path behind city buildings or crossing rocks in the stream. Cottonwoods rained puff balls in slow motion. I would stop on the large stones in the center of Washburn Creek to see the fuzz fall, sit for a second like a skipper, then wash away. The days would get shorter. We would grow taller, ready to live forever.

Stinking of lake water we had long, greasy hair and torn, fat-legged jeans… neither of which had been washed in weeks. Shirtless with skateboards, acne and sweat, playing acoustic guitars with worn down pick guards and screaming punk rock lyrics with our feet planted in the sand. Pink, newly stubbled faces, legs, pussies, pits, and happy trails. A pre 9/11- puberty of boys and girls, dreaming of being men and women. Glowing with a growing fire and discussing the possibility that God does not exist.

My last visit home I wanted to visit, to remember what had blurred by. Where, at 16, we had all the answers. I asked my mother to drive me. We parked and crossed the small bridge that had been erected over the stream. I could still smell the airplane over my Burberry cologne. Each tree had been plucked up so the people living in the new condominiums had a view of their found, private beach.

My mother tells me I look nice in clothes that fit. She wishes I wouldn’t wear a hat all the time but it hides my washed away hairline. She pulls out her phone to take a selfie of us on the break wall I once stood in front of to get a blowjob.

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Klae Bainter received his BA in creative writing from the University of Washington in 2015, and will begin master's studies in the NEOMFA program in Cleveland in the fall of 2018. He currently resides in Seattle, WA.