The pool club is psychedelic with disarray, everyone tanning, slippery as a fin, sun-drunk. I’m floating on a neon pink flamingo, scoping out the scene, eyes burning and blurring from chlorine, yellow bikini straps digging into my newly swollen hips. Toddlers shriek in the kiddie pool; women flip like burgers to get an even crisp color; men pretend to check their phones as they steal glances at me through the slits of their sunglasses.
I twirl a blue raspberry lollipop against the inside of my cheek, shift it back-forth, back-forth, in-out, in-out. The oiled ladies gawk at this while their partners guess the shade of my tongue. This is how I know it doesn’t matter that my bathing suit costs a buck fifty. Pretty girls can throw on sacks and still be the height of desire.
My feet slip into the water, the surface opening easy for me, like a mouth for sweets. If I let it, this pool would gobble me whole. Instead I cross my ankles, my fingers webbed in drying water, and shut my eyes. I am what these people have taught me to be: a clusterfuck of mystery; a pillar of commonplace. The flamingo whispers the words they think, it won’t get any better than that, and I soak in their drool, bottle it. One day, when my skin is pruned but not from water, I may need their attention. I will save it for then. For now, I lift my lids toward the sun and watch tadpoles swim freely in the sky.