By the Pool

March 18, 2008
By Rebecca Kimmelman, Yardville, NJ

The sun beats down from behind the wisps of fluff looming above in the blue abyss. The chorine infused water swishes back and forth within the pool as children splash their counterparts. Sun bathers turn onto their sides, further toasting there already toasted bodies. A lifeguard blows his whistle, the rhythmic chiming of a modern age. One girl sits alone, a magazine in her lap.

She chews her lip, a bikini clad anorexic staring up at her from the page. She studies her, taking the bright pink polka dots of her swim suit and white gleam of her bleach blonde hair.

Cool, she thinks.

A little voice in the back of head chimes in. Yea, right. Like you could ever look like that.
The girl flips the page, forcing the voice back to its home in the back of her mind. She glances up to see the lifeguard walk by. Tan and attractive, he smiles at her and she smiles back, as is impulse. After all, she knows him from school. But there’s nothing there. She could never have a guy like him.
And why not? she questions herself.
Because handsome’s not your type, babe, replies the voice in her head.
She watches him walk away and as always, she feels a sinking inside. She doesn’t know what it is. She never does.
Two girls walk by, bikini clad, with their perfect breasts and perfect bodies. Identical clones in an identical world. But not like her. A wave of self doubt sets in upon the girl and she suddenly finds herself looking at her own deflated chest. She’s barely a B cup.
Her body isn’t an ideal one. It isn’t even remotely likable. She often dreams of being thinner, prettier.
If only I could body swap, she thinks, staring jealously at the departing girls.
If only, fat a**, the voice says, digging into her.
She forces the voice back, somewhat like a fly swatter swats a fly and returns to her magazine. Flipping a few pages she finds herself staring at the picture of a man and a woman, post kiss.
“You taste like strawberries,” says a speech bubble above the man’s head.
The girl is swooning.
How exactly does one taste like strawberries? thinks the girl. Doesn’t one have to eat something to taste like something?
She raises her eyes to the blue sky. I wonder what I taste like, she thinks as she tries to remember the last thing she ate. Cheerios.
You taste like cheerios, says the voice, rising up again, and they say romance is dead.
The girl bats the voice back down.
I didn’t ask you, now I did I, she mutters.
She looks up. The sun is getting high in sky and it’s time for her to go home. She doesn’t belong her anyway. Not in the sunlight. Not by the pool. She gathers up her things, slinging a towel over her arm and picking up the magazine in her hand.
And just like that, she’s gone.

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