Marisha Gene Hicks works in a chocolate factory in New York City. Her writing is found in Apeiron Review, Gravel, and Barrio Panther. Her twitter is @mghicks6.

1 story by Marisha Gene Hicks

Poolside Attractions

I took off my bikini top and shot it like a rubber band at the sun-blistered chairs. Swimming

topless felt so good—the soft chlorinated water caressing my skin—that I thought freeing my

bottom half would feel equally as good, and it did, even better actually. The slightest

movement sent a stream of cool water circulating between my thighs, fondling my freshly shaved everything. I told you to try it. I wanted to share the experience with you. Because that’s what relationships are, really. Selfishly.

You hesitated. Probably because it was the middle of the day, but at this point in the

relationship you were still trying to keep up with me, so you slipped off your swim shorts and

flung them in the soggy bathing suit pile. We circled each other like drunk sharks, and when

our human legs cramped we swam to the edge of the pool to take sips from the martinis we’d

made in the motel room. We drank extra dirty, slightly chlorinated vodka out of red plastic

wine goblets shaped like skulls. We’d bought them at the Walgreens next to the liquor store

in town. They were tacky enough to excite us, and we declared them the goblets for our

future Vegas wedding. It must have been around October if we bought Halloween goblets.

But why were we swimming? It was probably a hot September. Stores sell holiday stuff very

prematurely these days.

Your thick black hair was slicked back; I told you that you looked like your mom, and you

told me that Indonesians were afraid of the water. You said that they feared and revered it as something powerful not to fuck with—except for fishing, of course. You jumped up and dove

back in the pool like a little kid pretending to be a dolphin. You did this over and over, and it

annoyed me because I thought you were only doing it to prove you how crazy you were—so

that everyone would see your butt and your balls. That’s what I thought at the time.

I remember yelling—maybe to prove how crazy I was—I remember yelling, “I love

swimming!” I sank down in a straight line until the bottom of my feet bounced off the

textured concrete of the pool floor. I sprang back up, breasts bobbing up over the water line.

Did we end up using the goblets when we eloped? I can’t remember.

Do you remember that skinny cholo kid? He sat at the table under the big umbrella, and then

later on a plastic chair closer to the pool to get a better look. He wore baggy khakis cinched

with a black canvas belt and actual Cortez’s. We liked his style, remember? He had a pad of

the motel stationery with him. He wrote love letters to his girlfriend. That’s what we guessed

anyway, because it looked like he was drawing hearts.

We must have guessed he was writing love letters because we were in love. Or maybe we

already knew that we weren’t and we thought someone else should be. Or maybe we thought

that everyone on that Sunny California day ought to be drunk on bright blue chlorine.

It turns out he wasn’t writing love letters. And neither were we. But we came close.

When he sat at the edge of the pool, I saw the words Dear Tia, but I never told you that

because I liked the love story better. I was always trying to change things back then, for the

sake of a good story with a nice ending. We were right about the hearts, though. Kinda weird.

We slipped over the dividing wall that connected the hot tub and the pool, like naked little

sea lions, and the cholo kid laughed. We giggled. He never made eye contact with us, just

went back to writing. Then he left. And then we left.

Yesterday, I saw a photo of you with your wife and daughter. The three of you were in a lake,

standing in the shallow water. I pictured your feet sinking into the warm marsh, mud

squishing between your toes. You must have felt grounded being swallowed up by the earth.

In the picture, your wife holds your daughter and looks at you. It appears that she loves you

in a way that doesn’t require dirty martinis or wild Vegas plans or skinny-dipping at motel

pools with cholo boys watching.

No one in the picture looks afraid of the water, despite the usual lake creatures. Creatures

more real than drunk sharks and naked little sea lions. No one looks like they are in fear or

even in reverence of the water. Or the things in the water. Or the things stuck in the mud. Or

being stuck in the mud. I guess that’s what a family photo should look like.

I’m at the motel. You remember the one. I’m at the pool. You remember the one. I’m under

the sun-bleached umbrella writing this letter in a sun-blistered chair. I think it may be a love

letter, of sorts.

I’m going to slip into the pool now. With my bathing suit on.