about the author

Like nomadic Pericú natives before him, Matthew Dexter survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine. He lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

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Sunken Ancestry

Matthew Dexter

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We were in our cabin watching the rainbow through the porthole when you told me that Grandma had jumped ship. The cruise liner was turning around and the sirens began to wail, and we could feel the weight of the Carnival Splendor shift if we focused on our bodies and not the spectrum of life spun from the thunderstorm. We wondered what inspired the brave woman to embrace the sea when nobody was looking.

Before that we were putting on our bathing suits, having just made love. It felt angry, but necessary. Mesmerized by the pillows in my face, the middle of your madness spilling over like a frozen margarita poured into a Mexican hand-blown glass by the pool deck.

Before that the retractable sky dome protected us.

Before that we were playing mini golf. Grandma was making love to her ice cream, lips glistening with euphoria. She was happy, thanked us for this treat: a vacation without depression, away from the monotony of a down economy and Alzheimer’s.

Before that we were getting drunk, watching storm clouds thicken and drift faster in cooling wind. Grandma won at shuffleboard, I handed her five bucks, and granted permission for her afternoon snack.

Before that Grandma was taking a nap.

Before that we were eating lobster tails and drinking champagne. There was mariachi music and regional Mexican dancing. Beautiful folks were falling in love again as young maidens offered trays of white zinfandel and chardonnays. A crowd gathered in a circle and clapped.

Before that we were helping Grandma get dressed. Her head had developed a sore, and we brushed her wig back to get a closer look at what we were dealing with.

Before that we were riding on the water taxi back to the ship. It felt so good to be onshore, amid the palm trees munching seafood omelets.

Before that we told Grandma that we were more than friends; we were engaged. She seemed happy, sunk back in her deck chair, embracing the rhythm of brass instruments making love to her hearing aids. We had come clean. The anchor had been lifted.

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