By Natty Soltesz
“I’ve been having these weird dreams about my mother,” I say, reaching into my pocket and pulling out a green butterfly yo-yo. “I’m screaming at her, yelling into her face…I wake up in this horrendous blind rage…”
I let the yo-yo unwind on its string. There’s nothing I can do with it because we’re speeding along in Tina’s car at ninety miles an hour. I let it roll down, flaccid on the floor.
“In the dream I’m telling her she’s smothering me, that she’s trying to protect me and it’s useless, there’s nothing she can do to help.” Tina reaches over from the driver’s seat and massages the back of my head.
“Don’t worry, baby,” she says, “everything’ll be alright.”
“No it won’t,” James says from the backseat, but we ignore him. I feel Tina stroking my head and I try to think happy thoughts.
When we get to the shore it is dusk, the world covered over in an orange syrupy glow. Tina is the first one out of the car, she runs down the sand and James and I chase after her, laughing. We tear off our clothes and dive into the ocean, swimming out until we’re floating above the ground.
Back on the sand, Tina throws her legs in the air and frames the world between them. James stares out at the horizon, mesmerized by the ocean.
“There are whole other worlds under there,” he says, “thousands of ships and debris, miles and miles of places and things that we can’t understand…” James is drifting, his mind is taking him places he can’t help but go. “More nuclear bombs than ever before,” he’d said earlier. “How can anyone be so naive as to think we won’t use them?” I stand up and lead the way to the boardwalk.
Now it’s dark. The boardwalk teems with life, ghost beach people who are here one week and gone the next. We reach the entrance to the amusement park and Tina notices a girl sitting on the ground. The girl looks weak and destitute, nearly on the verge of tears. Tina goes over and talks to her. She leans in, brushing stringy hair out of the girl’s face. She reaches out and grabs hold of the girl’s dirty hand.
“She wants to come with us,” Tina says, ushering the girl in front of her.
We ride the Ferris wheel, Tina and the girl in one little car, James and I in another. We’re on a giant neon wheel spinning in the night. It rises up, comes back down, but doesn’t go anywhere. James and I watch Tina and the girl getting closer, then making out. The girl is young, but she seems to know what she’s doing.
James sighs and leans back into his seat. I put my hand on his thigh and he doesn’t move it away.
We walk toward our hotel, the four of us. The night seems darker and quieter than before, there seems to be an ominous hum in the air. Hotels tower over us, concrete monoliths of little stacked rooms. There’s no sign of life anywhere. We enter our hotel, and the place looks deserted.
We’re all nervous. James taps his foot in the elevator as Tina dotes on the girl, smoothing out her stringy hair and staring at her longingly.
“Isn’t she the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?” she says. She turns to the girl. “So perfect…”
There seems to be something wrong but Tina is trying not to acknowledge it.
“Let’s go up to the pool,” she says to me. Then to the girl: “There’s a pool on the roof, isn’t that cool? We can go swimming in the pool on the roof.” The girl smiles; she’s eager to please.
We go to the pool on the roof and we get naked. Tina lays the girl onto the concrete and caresses her as if she were something sacred, holy.
James whispers to me, “so much for innocence…” He puts his tongue in my ear, I turn around and we begin. We’re male animals, with nothing to lose and little to gain, so we grab, eat, suck, and devour each other.
Tina has her head between the girl’s legs, licking and nibbling delicately. She lays her palms on the girl’s taught skin, cupping her small breasts. The girl stares up at the starless sky. Her eyes widen.
We hear it before we see anything. The sound gets louder, like an air conditioner kicking in, so loud that we can’t ignore it anymore. We look up from where we are and see it coming toward us.
The girl starts screaming. Everything goes cold. Tina pulls us close, lumps us together and tries to wrap us in her arms. We watch the sky and await our immediate destiny.