Flash fiction originally published in Right Hand Pointing, July 1st, 2018.
Lifeguards ruled bare-chested from their tall, red chairs. To Cara, they smell like the reason girls were supposed to be careful around boys, but once she smelled them, she lost track of the reason. From her towel on the sand, Cara told her cousin, Traci, “They smell like the wind.”
“They smell like dead fish.”
Traci was visiting from Wiscaaansin.
“Not enough to matter,“ Cara said. She watched the lifeguards’ muscles move under their skin. There must be a word for the way those muscles made her mouth feel full. When the guards climbed down at the end of the day, they stretched into long-sleeved t-shirts with “Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax” printed across the front. Traci blushed.
Cara glistened with knowledge. “Zog’s is surfboard wax.” They were so cool, those shirts.
“They look faded.”
Traci shopped at malls.
Next summer, Traci came back, still fourteen where Cara had turned fifteen. From their towels, the cousins watched a guard rescue a puppy. He was a junior guard, only sixteen. The older guards sent him in as a joke. Cara thought Remi was totally cute before she saw him take the puppy into his lifeguard arms, then bodysurf a wave to shore with the little guy held aloft. Cara imagined Remi’s hands under her pelvis, his one-handed lift as he made her soar. It took Cara two weeks to convince Traci to tell Remi what Cara wanted her to tell him. Then Traci came back with what Remi told her to tell Cara, and Cara and Remi met up long after the too-long day. He had been holding his breath, too. He smelled like her first kiss.
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