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My Puddle Duck

When life gives you puddles, sometimes you just need to play in them.

Some say only ducks truly enjoy the rain. They obviously have not met Kerstin. 

“You’re stark-raving mad, you know that?” I call out to her from the bungalow’s front porch. 

“We haven’t seen the sun for three days. These puddles may very well be my only chance at a pool.” She jumps, splashing both feet like a rebellious child with a rose-colored pout. “At least we’ll save on sunscreen!”

She has that carefree aura; the type that reminds you of summertime. The kind that sends your mind racing like a kid running into the surf, leaping through waves like gazelles. A smile that shines, even in the rain.

That essence showed through the first time we met. 

I was sixteen, newly licensed, ready to spread my wings and fly. At that time, I wasn’t sure who I was, but the answer was out there somewhere. For me, my hope for finding it was by driving around aimlessly, windows down with the radio turned all the way up.

“Where are you going, Layra?” my mom chirped one morning as I scuttled through the kitchen. 

“I don't know. Out.” 

“Be back in an hour. Your father’s company picnic is today at Moonlight Beach.” 

Moonlight’s a nice park. Lots of greenery, picnic benches and grilling spots all blending into the sand. That beauty went unappreciated by my grumbling teenage self who dreaded spending the day with family. 

Southern California usually stays relatively cool, but I remember that day the Santa Ana winds were blowing, bringing arid desert heat to the beaches. The moment we got there I found a shady spot and crossly thumbed my Instagram. 

“Did you know,” her voice startled me, “every year in late October, you can go down to Baja and watch the leatherbacks hatch?” 

I met her eyes inquisitively. 

She leaned down and whispered, “They are a type of sea turtle,” as if my puzzled look was about the species. “Lemon bar? They are my mom’s specialty.” She thrust a Tupperware container under my nose. 

It was Kerstin’s blithe spirit that I immediately clung to. She broke down my gruff woe-is-me attitude. Showed me that life was too short, and above all, how my true identity should not become a barrier from enjoying every second. 

Our first kiss was a few weeks later. We sat on that very same beach and watched a sunset paint the sky with different shades of red. 

That was eight years ago to this day. 

I trudge down from the bungalow, joining her in the deluge. Our picture-perfect honeymoon in Mexico seemingly being dashed by a rare Pacific tropical storm. 

Every reason for me to be upset is right there for the taking. 

Instead, I take her; cold rain pelting our skin. The chill melts away as we kiss. When I pull back, I see the fantasy in her eyes; indelible colors impenetrable by any dampening droplets. 

“Did you know,” I whisper to her ear. “This torrent won’t stop the leatherbacks from hatching.”

 

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