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Chlorine Kiss by Holly Hagman

The summer air is hot and damp as the sun disappears behind the faded fence posts in the shadows of the backyard. I revel in the sounds: the hum of the pool filter, the crunching of flip-flops on stones, the splash of an adventurous cannon ball as it disturbs the stillness–tiny waves rippling outward, sloshing water into the grass. I sit on the wooden deck, and submerge my feet. The buzz of a horsefly in my ear sends tingles down my neck as the cool breeze summons goosebumps up my arms. Behind me, someone asks if I’d like a towel. I turn to wrap myself in the sea turtle linen, fabric softener and chlorine mingling in my nostrils.

Paul stands an arm’s length away, leaning against the high, glass-topped table. He places the towel around my shoulders, and that action magically obscures the chaotic splashing of night-swim volleyball, the raucous laughter of tipsy twenty-somethings suddenly lightyears away. This memory is blurry, as if it occurred in that surreal moment right before waking up when the light kisses your eyelids and whispers you awake. Suspended as if floating in this infinite twilight, I travel through my memories of this night.

At this moment, neither of us know yet, but this will be the first night we kiss under the star-speckled sky, pale skin washed out by the moonlight, twinkling eyes, soft lips; the first night we will climb into the pick-up truck and allow the suburban street outside to fade away; the first night we will watch Silent Hill under blankets while the air conditioner whirs, chilled fingers intertwined, calloused thumbs moving in a soothing rhythm; the first night we will dry our hair with fresh towels, the clean chemical scent of chlorine dispersing in the atmosphere, disappearing on the wind like whispers; the first night we will accidentally touch during the game of Marco-Polo, share apologies, cheeks pruned and pink, the volleyball net as our witness; the first night we will share soft-serve ice cream, chocolate and vanilla waffle cones dipped in sprinkles, sticky and sweet.

Coming out of my reverie, I feel the soft caress of the towel against my skin. I stand, water still dripping down my legs and pooling at my feet. The sky is cloudless, the stars peeking out from behind the large tree in the neighbor’s yard. Paul adjusts his glasses that slip slightly down his nose from the moisture in the air. He smiles at me, and somehow, I know; our infinity begins with a chlorine kiss underneath the stars.


Holly Hagman is a teacher and writer from a small town in New Jersey. She graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with her BA in creative writing and her MAT in secondary education. She also earned her MFA in creative nonfiction from Fairfield University. She has been a nonfiction editor for magazines such as Brevity and Variant Literature. Her work can be viewed in The Citron Review, Complete Sentence, Porcupine Literary, and elsewhere.

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