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  • I turned twenty-four yesterday. But let me start elsewhere. Last week, seduced by a fit of warm weather, Gabriel brought James and me to the river just beyond the five-acre field of waist-high fescue North of our farm. We moved lightly over a bank of hot, smooth stones toward the water. Gabriel, James and I stripped to bathing clothes.

    Gabriel moved swiftly and confidently into the current, half-swallowed by snow melt as clear as molten glass. He dunked his body all the way in, up over his head. He came up shuddering and lay back against the current of the river, satisfied. Floating. I watched from a tiny island I'd waded to, in a smooth section of river fifty yards upstream. James asked, "Should I come, too?" Dropping the handful of flat, polished stones he'd collected for skipping, he moved into the water, counted: "one... TWO... THREE," dunked himself, and laughed with wild glee and a calmness I haven't seen in him for months.

    The two beckoned for me to come off my island. I could swear I saw steam rise off my skin as I plunged into the river, clenching teeth, astronaut-jumping in the current toward G and J. They watched my tense face as before I dipped I thought of how comfortable and warm I was. G: "Doitdoitdoit." I counted to three, took a deep breath, and allowed myself to be submerged.
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