St. Maarten—by Arya F. Jenkins

 

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On St. Maarten, the Dutch side, on the nude beach, they both wear only bottoms underneath the thatched roof of the open air bar while drinking Tequila Sunrises. Sandy, the paler of the two, has sunburn where her straps and top were, and Jess, who wears Maui Jims, sports the kind of tan that would allow her to walk naked invisibly anywhere at night.

Cheers. Two American girls. One with short, golden hair and broad swimmer’s shoulders, the other with long dark hair, sunbaked, with a sensual mouth.

Where you staying?

The Divi. You?

Same. Funny, haven’t seen you there before. I’m sure I would have recognized you.

My face—right?

Right. They share a laugh.

I don’t want to ask where you’re from in the States, don’t want to remind myself.

It’s OK. Connecticut.

Really?

You?

Jersey girl.

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Neighbors here and there, the two share another drink then go into the sea together, giddy with alcohol, excited to have found each other. Jess from Connecticut slips off her bathing suit bottom, Sandy does the same. Jess balls the two bikinis tossing them as one toward shore. Laughing, they race back to retrieve them from frothing sand.

At the shoreline, they stand very close. Jess runs her fingers through Sandy’s hair lifting aside blowing strands from her gray green eyes and Sandy blinks wide-eyed as she pulls the other to her.

All their years together Sandy will tremble thinking of that mouth while Jess will remember every detail of that glorious midday of their meeting on an island when neither was yet 30.

But that is later, the story with a happy end, as endings go. Then, in 1994, the story is just beginning, and Jess, who photographs with her eyes, surveys the long arms and legs of the woman she has just met, her strong hands and slender feet, absorbing the trail of her skin not yet porous with age only a smooth road aching to be traveled. All Sandy sees is the long hair defiant in the wind, like some sea creature refusing to be tamed even by air. All she sees are the beautiful breasts that would be as they are not just along this stretch of beach on an island but anywhere, and at the straight back, lightly bearing youth and grace.

They keep emitting little laughs although there is nothing to laugh at, just sunlight, all the time in the world.

Yes, she is mine, each thinks and each knows, encircling the other’s hand, where they will go–into their cars, back to the hotel to one room or the other, pulling drapes closed, spinning into the white sheets, the vast spread of empty years they will serve up to the other, acknowledging without words their perfect wholeness together.

They will make love again and again, until over the span of years the idea of an endless romance begins to dim, and the one’s long hair that once seemed to conduct waves lies flat as a sad snake on the pillow. And the other’s broad shoulders hunch forward, her lively, expressive hands cramp with age, her ankles thicken. But still there will be night and day, and the one’s mouth tenderly engulfing the other’s, and in their kiss, the spark of memory and tomorrow’s promise.


Arya F. Jenkins’s poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and zines. Her fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her poetry has also been nominated for the Pushcart. Her work has appeared in at least five anthologies. Her poetry chapbooks are: Jewel Fire (AllBook Books, 2011) and Silence Has A Name (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her jazz-inspired short story collection, Blue Songs in an Open Key, is slated for publication by Fomite Press in November 2018.

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