On his motorcycle, Brin drove me to Pine Lake
to go diving. I gripped his waist, loosely afraid

of falling into the traffic on North Elm Street
or Randleman Road, where the cars were racing on

and off Interstate 40. Pine Lake was carved out
of a cow-pasture by bulldozers and filled from

a nearby swamp in 1952. On one side were rows
of small white houses with wire fences—our side

was a beach along the roped-off green water.
A concrete block above the far end held the spring-

board. Brin mastered flips and gainers, but I preferred
swan dives. After two flips I was too tired

to try another—a third and I landed square
on my face, pretending not to be in pain. Swan

diving was easier. I imagined myself graceful
in that arch. We stopped on the way home, split

a bucket of fried chicken. Brin was excited
about the chicken, but thought it was odd

because as a teen he worked in a chicken place,
hated it—tried to stay high during his shift.

He overdosed in the supply room and forgot
how to breathe. His friends reminded him

by saying “breathe” in his ears, stroking his chest.


EVAN SMITH RAKOFF is a freelance writer and works at Poets & Writers. His essays and poems have appeared appeared in Slate, Washington Post, Green Mountains Review, Paris Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. A native of North Carolina, he lives in lower Manhattan with his wife, son, and daughter. 

Follow him on Twitter @esmithrakoff

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