Here comes the walking alligator handbag. Down from the veranda, across coarse sand, lounge chair wedged under her arm. Floral beach bag slung across her shoulder. Rumored to have been purchased on her last shopping trip to Miami where everyone wondered how she could manoeuvre on those toothpick legs.
There she goes. Dyed copper hair swept back into a sleek bun. Brown bikini making it difficult to tell where it ends and she begins. Who knows her age. Not us. We’re teenagers who think that everyone but teenagers look ancient. She could be thirty. Or older. She could be our parents age.
That skin. Tight leatherette. We once thought having an all over tan like hers, to us so deep, so rich and chocolaty, was the goal. Especially when we were younger. These days we mix baby oil with iodine. Lie on our backs singing to the radio until someone tells us to turn or burn.
Look at her. Queen of the beach. Business end of August. Slight and severely thin. Is she alright? We know precious little about her. Only beach gossip.
Now she lands her lounge chair a few feet from the water’s edge. A few feet to the left of the lifeguard tower. His name is Johnny and his hair is fine and blonde. White, luminous skin covering broad shoulders. He is a beacon seated high on his lifesaving throne. We think it would be art to stand alligator handbag and him side by side. We could take a Polaroid for keeps. Something to remind us.
She places her Miami bag on the sand. Spreads and smooths an orange beach towel on top of her lounge chair. Reaches into the bag for her Hawaiian Tropic (probably sun factor not), slathers it all over her body. Every inch. Even the tops of her feet.
Oh legendary lady of the lounger. Clouds disperse in your presence. The sun belongs only to you. And here you will stay.
Throughout lunchtime. While we eat fries from red and white checked paper boats.
Two pm. When the scorching sand burns the soles of our feet as we bolt to the sea.
At four. We roll up our beach towels and head for the lockers.
We will recall her in shadows. Memories buried beneath relationships and life and death. A midsummer mythology here then gone. Her legacy following us when we leave for college in September.
‘Mythology’ (c)2022 Deborah McMenamy
All Rights Reserved