The Roommate

Thomas J. Rice


My college roommate drowned the day we first met. 

He was just 18, tall and blonde, with a shy smile, bright blue eyes, 

and a bone-crushing handshake. “I’m Bjorn Karlsson, Sioux City, Iowa,” he blurted. “Gotta run; swim test.” 

We were both freshmen, assigned to the same big double on the first floor of the ivy-covered dorm, taking the requisite test before classes started. “I don’t really know how to swim,” he tossed over his shoulder, laughing. “Just want to get the damned thing over with.” Then he bolted.

 He promised to meet up afterwards at the student union. 

But he never showed. Back at the dorm, I found out why.

  He dove in the deep end and never came up. 

 Seems no one noticed. But how could that be?

Oddly, I still dream of his fierce handshake and shy smile.

And I’ve always wondered how they broke the news to his parents.