We were business partners.

Sold friendship for fifty cents.

Choosing bracelet-colors cost extra.

The only friendship that ever mattered was free.

I’m not sure why you gave it to me.


Remember the day you taught me to skip

Stones in the mud-hole down the street?

Never thought much about mud, until then.

You wore that grey jacket.

Your rain-slicked hair dripped over your eyes.

I wish I still had “something that cool” by my house.


Sometimes we’d sneak inside our concrete tunnel.

Exchange glances.

Share secrets.

The pebbles ground into my palms.

They formed dents in my skin.

They didn’t cut me the way the bullet did.


You salvaged me from youth’s riptide.

Reached for my hand in the dark

Chasm between our worlds

And pulled me closer.

Some said it was too close.

I sucked at skipping stones.


Remember the night we danced in my living room?

You wished your parents would never come.

I didn’t believe in third dimensions,

Or I would have smuggled you

The same way we smuggled those cinnamon toothpicks.

Hid you in that guarded

Pocket, where I’ve preserved your picture.


Instead, our parents jolted our tunnel.

Shattered the concrete.

Ripped velcro

Until it bled.

The scars still shed tears.

But the truth is,

Fate knew that if I was there,

You never would’ve pulled the trigger.


© All Rights Reserved Caroline Adele O’Brien


4 thoughts on “Riptide

    • Thank you, Irina :). I’m so glad I was able to convey the emotions I meant to. Yes, he was my first love and my best friend. He meant the world to me.

      • Aaaah first love! Usually very powerful and unforgettable. When I broke up with my first love I thought I’d never fall in love again, but I did.

      • Yes, very powerful, indeed. When I met my first love, we were in elementary school. After knowing him for two years, his parents decided to move one town over. When he moved, he told me he’d see me in high school, because his new school would have joined with mine at the high school. Unfortunately, my parents moved us north, to a town two hours away, and he and I lost track of each other. He was someone I had always hoped to come across again one day. But when I reunited with childhood friends on facebook, I found out he had committed suicide in December of our senior year. 16 years had passed, before I knew. Everyone else has moved on. So, I’m grieving through poetry, hoping not to reopen old wounds for those who have already been able to get past it all. His was the first of four suicides I’ve survived (one of which I was physically present for), yet his is the one that pains me the most. I think because I’m constantly wondering what if I had been there that year? Would he still be alive today? Truthfully, I believe that if I had been there, he still would have died. I don’t think my being there would have changed anything. It’s probably best that I wasn’t. I don’t think I would have been strong enough back then to cope with the aftermath.

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