One year ago

As usual the beach is full of Fours and Fives. Their eyes flick over my face, flick away. Flick back, again. I love them for it, but the nerve. It’s the media, the music videos. Every wannabe Britney Spears thinks she’s Britney Spears. (Though if you were to stick the actual Britney Spears on this beach? And no handlers? After a few hours she’d be as sunburnt and her thighs would be as chaffed as every other girl’s here. Unhandled, she’d be burping up yellow. Cheetos. Fuck the cameras. Film away. Burp. She’d go down from Seven to a Four just like that.)

A Four walks by, looks up from her phone. Small lips, big nose. Small breasts but a belly.

“Hey,” I say. I’m feeling generous. Bored. And it’s a lovely evening.

“Hey?” she says.

“Great dress,” I say. “It looks really good on you.”

“Oh, thanks,” she looks down at the dress. She blushes. It’s a simple one: on you. As if I’ve seen her in other dresses. As if I was familiar. She will now hope I was familiar. Me being familiar alleviates the suspicion. Why would I be talking to her? On you. Eyes big and hopeful. The dress is roomy, like a tent. It’s a dress that hides things, thighs. The dress is pale pink.

I don’t ask for her number. I won’t ask for her number. I’m suddenly tired. Not tired. Want to keep on moving. I smile and say, “Have a good night, gorgeous.”

Her mouth opens. But then she must understand. No? I’m not a Four.

“May I pet your dog?” she says. “Please?”

“Sure,” I say. I do admire nerve. She thinks she’s a Seven at least.

She bends down to pet the dog. A wave of spasm zaps through the dog’s back. Pleasure. I look at her back with purple stains of old acne.

“Our neighbour had a—“

Dog like that or something. I look over to the boardwalk. The boardwalk shops is a chaos of hue. It’s a landfill of flip flops and inflatable seahorses. And plastic sunglasses and plastic pails. And dripping ice cream and sticky fingers of children. The fingers that like to reach for the dog, like, the Four, here.

I snap the leash, the dog’s head snaps. “Have a nice day,” I say.

She says—

I walk toward the edge of the water. The sun is behind us. The sun gives the Ocean an orange tint. The sand is white during the day. Now it’s deep yellow. Later, brown. Everything looks very nice. Everyone takes a picture with their phone.