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  You could have a big dipper   

Purgatory Oyster Bay by Susanna Baird

Marty backstrokes alongside stale gossip, lemon rinds, and sticky jazz bits that are flotsam in the country club pool. Caftaned women and cocktailed men swill sophisticated on the terrace, only half the souls here, despite claiming all the gin and tonics. The only difference between them is tense: drink, drank, drunk.

What the living don't swallow dribbles down chins, drips onto floors scuffed by topsiders, slides across tiles into water where the buoyant expired don't mind. "It's not like we'll drown," Marty jokes. He left the party months ago, has perfected his deadman’s float and so purified, evaporates.

The night air pushes him apart, sends his bowtie flying toward the city, carries his laugh out over the bay, mixes the scent of his aftershave with the smells of chlorine and liquor and salt from the sea.


Susanna Baird’s writing has appeared in Boston Magazine, the Boston Globe, and numerous literary journals, including a forthcoming piece in Tiny Molecules. She’s a member of the Salem Literary Festival committee and founder of the micro-journal Five Minutes. Find her at and on Twitter @SusannaBaird.

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