Contemporary Fiction

Hot afternoon. Pair of legs, bare, unshaven. Skin turning red. Red as lobsters, but less tasty. Red as white people skin in tropical sun.

Denim shorts, torn at the pockets. Pale blue, almost bleached white. Originally jeans. Time and wear and a pair of scissors, snip-snip. Brand new look, same old comfort.

Sea’s beautiful. Not Maldives-beautiful but still beautiful. Blue-gray-green, gentle waves. Shooooosh-sssssssssssssst. Shooooooooooooooooosh. Too hot to sleep though.

Coconut trees, no coconuts. Rougher bark than imagined. Scrubby grasses before soft sandy beach. Ants and little roachy critters. Slippers - not the type back home - rubber slippers. Red pair, blue pair. Same size and design. Very tropical.

She comes up. Ursula Andress, almost. One-piece swimsuit that looks like a bikini. White, with straps crossing over a flat abdomen. A long raised scar. People staring. 

Let them stare. 

Look over there.



Oh. Oh.

Yeah? I like that.

I like that too.

I like her first.

I like her more.

A cloud drifts past the sun. Momentary shadow, fleeting relief. And then, broiler heat, cooking people on the sand.

Lukewarm drinks, need more ice.

Shoulda bought the Slurpees from 7-Eleven.

Shoulda. Hey, do you know the song?

What song?

Seven eleven it’s a store and more.

Shit. Gonna hear it over and over in my head now. You jerk.


Water lapping up the shore. Shooooosh-ssssssssst. Shooosh. Sssssssssssssst. Incoming or outgoing tide, who cares. Not gonna reach us.

Sand, shells, sharp edges worn smooth. A hermit crab scuttling along in a cream-and-orange spiral shell. Little little legs, scuttle scuttle scuttle. Hiding its soft belly in armor.

People, staring. Just a scar. A simple scar. 

What you looking at mister. What you staring at. Is it the scar - come back here and tell me.

Hey, hey. Settle down, easy now, don’t wanna fight. Nice day and vacation and all that. Came out for a good time.

My sunglasses - where have they gone?

On your head, doofus. On your pretty little head.

Mm. The last time you called me pretty was-

-hang on, I see the ice cream guy. Ice cream guy, yo!

-was at Lissie’s wedding. Remember her wedding?

Yeah. Two lime ices, thanks. Thanks, dude. Nah keep the change, it’s a hot day. Essential service, what you’re doing. Hope you sell all a them. What about Lissie’s wedding?

When you last called me pretty. You don’t say it often.

I think it often.

Can’t read your mind. Doofus.

Doof yourself, doofus.

Kinda miss her.

Miss who? Lissie?

Silly of me though.

For real. 

She hates us.

What’s that movie - ‘put the itch in bitch’ - the one with Eliza Dushku?

Bring It On. Loved that movie.

Hugest crush on Eliza.

Hmm. Gabrielle Union.

Both gorgeous babes.

Yeah. Absolutely badass babes.

I wanted to, you know. 

No I don’t. 

Be like her. Like Missy. 

You’re better than. You’re alive and here with me. Not a teen girl in a movie.

Sand in the suit. Itches. Gets everywhere. Sand on the scar. Tiny white grains on dull, dark brown. Look closer. Not white but multicolor. Different crystals. Different shapes. An infinity in variety on a narrow strip of healed skin. 

Half a clam shell. Dark brown. Ridges, like Ruffles potato chips. Up and down and up and down and up and down. Tiny mermaid lost half her bra.

Ooh, naughty mermaid.

Can you imagine the first time Ariel-

Oh god, no. Can we not.

New body parts and all. 

I don’t wanna think about. No. Stop. My childhood innocence.


Sweet and sour lime ices. Eases the sting of the hot afternoon sun. Hardly any locals around. Too damn hot, maybe? Or because it’s a weekday. Monday. Sucks to be working on a day like today. 

Sticky lime syrup on the fingers from melted ice.

Lemme lick.

No! Ew. There’s sand on my hand. No!

I don’t care.

I do. Ew.

Quick run to the water, quick run back. Hot sand ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch. 


White foam curling like lace around ankles. Around knees. 

Do fish like sweet foods?

What a shame, they can’t eat ice cream, what a shame.

Imagine: a great white shark, chomping on Ben and Jerry’s. Mmm.

You mean a guy named Ben and a guy named Jerry, right?

Ha. Yes. Shark jokes- Hey! Don’t splash. Jerk. Ptooey. Sea water in my mouth, eurgh.


Hot hot sand. Feet on fire, ooooh. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch.

Should have gone places with air-conditioning. Or stayed in the hotel room. Soak in the tub.

Or stayed home. Midwinter now. Cold enough to freeze your tits off.

Woulda saved on the surgery.

If only. Didn’t think ahead.

Maybe the next one we’ll stay home. See what body parts freeze off.

Probably toes. 

Maybe a p-

-don’t finish that sentence-


Sunscreen. Greasy, slick, like oiling up a bird to be broiled. It’s so funny. Everything today is.

Funny is. Something from before. Feels like a hug. Haven’t been funny since before.


Before the scar. Before the knife in the dark.

Eight months ago. Long time without funny stuff.

Still hurts, sometimes, the scar. Psychosomatic, mostly. Healed well, but also not.

Made it painful to laugh. Made it painful to live.

Never too painful to love. Gonna need to be killed before that stops. 

Maybe not even then.

Sun’s gonna darken the scar more.

Doesn’t matter. 

It’s ugly.

You’re pretty. And I think it all a time too. Not just when I say it. Not only at Lissie’s wedding.

Didja hear? Lissie and her guy.

No, what?

Broke up. Cheating on her with her cousin.

No! What, she living in a soap? 

Funny. Like ha-ha funny. 

Mean of you. 

Like it’s not funny?

…Yeah, kinda. I mean, what she did to Tim and his brother.

Tim would laugh.

That stupid snorting horse laugh?

Stupid horse snort. Hnnrraak nnnrkgh nerrghkk.

Oh my god! Perfect copy. 

Friends back home. Not many old ones now. Mostly new ones. Secret’s out, so are we.

Goddamn sand. Sand everywhere. Toes, elbows. Ass crack. I sound like Anakin.

We taking a bit of sunny Sentosa home with us.

Dull old Reading. Not a beach in sight.

Not a ray of sun in sight.

Hey, if we kiss here, you think…

With people staring?

Don’t care. You look pretty. I wanna kiss you. Now. On the beach with sand everywhere. With people staring.

With sand in my ass crack?

With sand in your ass crack.



February 20, 2023 03:44

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