My cousin Lexi wears makeup to the Rock-a-Hoola water park and then
refuses to get in the water. She wears a green and pink bikini and
walks real slow, poking her chest out so people will notice her. Past
the wave pool, the arcade, the big slide, she finds an empty spot in
the middle of everything. She spreads out a towel and makes a big show
of rubbing tanning oil on her shoulders.
I say, That cloud looks like a bird, doesn't it? She says, Shush, don't
embarrass me. We close our eyes and lie there like that for a long
Lexi has been staying with us for a while. To give her dad a
break, my mom says. We used to play basketball and wind up the tire
swing and then let go and spin until we almost threw up. But now all
she does is put on makeup, curl her hair, test out my mother's
perfumes. My mom tells me to leave her be.
Someone says, "Lexi." I recognize the boy from the newspaper, he's a tenth-grader on the
varsity basketball team. Lexi stands up and he grabs her hands and
holds them, whispers to her. She blushes and yanks her hands away. He
walks away laughing.
Come on, she says, and grabs my hand and pulls me up and away, past our
towels, past boys playing volleyball and little kids struggling with
their rafts. She bites her lip until it turns white. Behind
the snack bar, she lights a cigarette with a pink lighter, and even
though she doesn't offer it to me, I know that this is a big deal,
letting me watch. She inhales, exhales looking up at the sky. She says
the night her mother died, a bird flew in the house through an open
window. It flew out again a few minutes later. She says, Really, how
often does that happen?
Beth Thomas has stories in or coming from Pank, Corium, FRiGG, NOO, The Los Angeles Review and others. She's a
Senior Editor at SmokeLong Quarterly.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/201009rock.htm
Detail of photo on main page courtesy
of Reader Walker.
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