Casual Encounter

by Kristian O'Hare

No one is ever at the beach in summer, not in San Francisco. I zip up my hoodie and unzip my pants and squint out towards where the sun ought to be. It’s only desire, clumsy as a teenager, whose tongue gets lost in that hummock of beach-bur, that silver-scur of saltbush—It all feels forbidden, like those hidden things under mattresses, in sock drawers, that loose floorboard in the shed beneath a toolbox beside a jar of Vaseline. Until it reveals itself: that felted petal, chapped as lips in winter, bound in heather, spun yarn and spindrift. That familiar unknown breath on the nape of the neck. That unfamiliar voice, that rush of words, Hurry up someone might see, or does that turn you on? That rush. You could almost drown in it, I almost did. Lust, desire, once hardwired. Now regret, like a coil of rope tightens in a noose. You survive as if only a memory, in that smile of relief, when it’s over as soon as it begins.

About the author

Kristian O'Hare's writing has appeared in Third Coast Magazine, The Citron Review, San Francisco State University's Fourteen Hills, South 85 Journal, Mud Season Review, New Orleans Review, The Indianapolis Review, Foglifter, Hobart, and Reservoir Road Literary Journal. He was awarded a first-place prize in Very Short Fiction at 2020's Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. He currently teaches First-Year Writing and Creative Writing at San Jose State University.  For more of his work, visit

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Black Sun

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