Heather Sellers, “It’s Water, It’s Not Going to Kill You”

998401687038After her husband threatens to leave, a woman drives the family car into the Atlantic Ocean.

(from Georgia Under Water)

When the breakers hit, the car nosed up, then down. Angling down, it lost ground–that is, from our point of view. It came back toward shore–a good two waves’ worth. Everything seemed about to be okay; the car easing back to the beach, the windows rolled down. She could get out. I knew she wouldn’t leave her purse.

“She won’t leave her purse,” said Sid.

This story is told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl. It begins, “In the good days, my family lived in a condo, on the twenty-third floor of Pleasure Towers in Ormond Beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.” Over the course of the story, we see the family–a boy, a girl, and their parents–fall apart. Or they were always falling apart but the narrator has just now realized it. Things have just now hit the point at which they can no longer be ignored, when mothers drive their cars into the ocean, when children hang from balconies and ask for sips of their father’s drinks. Everything is wet and hot and sweating profusely and Sellers captures this feeling of disintegration so well.

This collection was published in 2001 and I’m not totally sure it’s still in print, but it’s excellent. The last story in the collection, “Fla. Boys,” is one of my favorite stories of all time.

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