only in retrospect could the island become real
Frank Hinton

His name is Rich and he lives about 0.35 km away from me and I think of him maybe thirty or forty times a day if I'm sober. I'm not sober very often. It's summer. I've been on a bit of a bender. I've just found that it is so much easier to get through the day by taking a shot right after lunch and riding that out, seeing if it leads to more shots or something else. The something else I've been led to is that people are fucked up. I've been led to a realization. I'm also one of those fucked up people. This is fundamental.
Today I put my hand under my shirt and my fingers pressed together and I noticed something between them. I was in the area of the aureole of my nipple. What my fingers had touched was a long strand of hair that I hadn't noticed before. It was coming right out of the fucking aureole around my nipple. I held my fingers still for a while, just kind of thinking of the possibility of all this. Was it possible? I slid my fingers down as far to the tip of the hair as I could. Fuck it was long! I quickly re-found the hair and made a few gentle twists and then- yank! That little fucker was out. It was funny because just as I yanked the hair out, my phone buzzed, the screen lit up and I saw a message from Rich.
Whenever Rich texts me I say "Hey Rich," out loud.
I don't do this for anyone else.
Just Rich.
I am in love with Rich.
Rich invited me to go to the beach and while I stroked the stinging place around my nipple I smiled and agreed to go to the beach even though I didn't have any sun tan lotion and even though my bikini is unwashed and smells like crotch sweat, breast sweat and coco-butter, even though I am afraid my tummy will stick out. I said yes. I wrote it like this:
All caps. I wish there was a little emoticon for pom-pons.
I would use that shit every day.
Want to go out for lunch?
(Pom-Pons emoticon)
Rich texted me back a smiley face and told me we were going to Hubbard's Beach. I pulled my hand out from underneath my shirt. My bra went over my boob funny. I went into the bathroom and I closed the door and locked it (even though I was the only one home for the entire week) and I kneeled before the toilet and put my fingers into my throat and pressed and pressed and pressed and then I threw up my breakfast (Cheerios and strawberries) and I stood up and look down into the toilet water and made my face scrunch at the sight and then flushed the toilet and washed my hands with scolding water until they smelled like wet-naps. I felt better. I looked at my belly and felt better. I spoke to the mirror and looked right into my eyes.
"I feel better."
I don't have a problem. Everyone is fucked up.
I biked 0.35 km to Rich's house. Rich was sitting in the kitchen eating a fudgesicle at the kitchen table. He wasn't wearing a shirt and I could see his shoulder tattoo (one I don't really understand and never ask about). Rich looked at me but didn't stand up, he gave a little smile and I sort of smiled on both the inside and outside, like a little girl does, and then I sat across from him at the table.
"Your tomatoes look nice," I said, referring to the tomatoes Rich was growing on the patio.
"Thanks. The sun is frying the leaves though. Fucking sun."
I nodded. I wanted Rich to ask me to go downstairs to his bedroom so we could look at his vinyl collection so I could rub up against him as he showed me a rare white vinyl White Album record so he would kiss me as I acted amazed so he would give me an orgasm after around 12 minutes of foreplay and 12 minutes of penetrative sex so I could be happy.
I was wearing my bikini underneath my shorts and I got a little wet fantasizing the details of something that was 100% not going to happen.
Rich passed me a medicine bottle and I took it into my hands. I opened up the medicine bottle. It was filled with white sand.
"That's sand from Hubbard's Beach," he said. "I return it and refill the bottle every time I go."
That seemed really stupid to me, but I didn't let it show. I just smiled and thought about the color of my teeth and what Rich's tongue tasted like. Like I say, I'm in love with Rich and when you're in love sometimes it doesn't matter if the other person loves you and sometimes it doesn't matter if the other person is a good person or a normal person or a rational person. Love is apparently a really fucked up non-Disney-y thing that is at once undefinable and wholly knowable when it encompasses you. I was hoping my teeth didn't look coffee stained.
We were sitting in a jeep, four of us, everyone was a girl except Rich. Rich was sitting in the driver's seat and his curly hair was flickering in the wind like a torch made of pastel. He was wearing huge sunglasses and I kept thinking he was looking right at me through the reflection path in the tilt of the rear-view mirror. Amanda was sitting in the passenger seat and Margaret was sitting next to me in the back. These two are cunts. Do I need to explain them? Maybe they were there for the same reasons I was but I can't really imagine them knowing the purity of feeling I have for Rich. Amanda has a gunt hanging over her bikini line and Margaret's thighs could be wrapped in that pink butcher's paper. Both of them are shallow-minded, MTV loving clubbers.
We got to the beach and everyone set up. The place was packed, it was a day to burn yourself. Rich brought a frisbee from the car and we all stood as the vertices of an invisible square and routinely passed a frisbee between one another, laughing and smiling and waiting for Rich to make a fucking choice, a fucking statement.
What is there to do on a beach but swim and bake and play frisbee? I don't know. I found myself sitting on a blanket with my face buried in darkness and my hands fisting clumps of shapeless white sand. I wanted the sand to be in me, to come in beneath the fingernails and drip through expanded pores and enter the insides, enter my heart, granulate it, make it move like sand in wind, like sand on dark water, like wet sand in the shape of a loving, human heart.
I fell asleep.
When I woke up I could feel the ache. I'd cooked. Nobody fucking checked on me! Nobody cared. The view I could get from my vantage was red and it felt like shit just to sit up. Rich and Amanda and Margaret were eating onion rings and I just sat there thinking of aloe, watching Amanda's wrinkly gunt pulsate with each swallow. They sucked the insides from their onion rings.
I wanted Rich to rub lineaments on me. I wanted him to blow cold wind onto my burns and watch the sun set in his sunglasses just beneath the creamy sea of his curls. I felt like maybe he knew how to heal things. I wanted to put my tongue in his mouth and use my tongue to count each one of his teeth while he licked the underside of my tongue with his tongue. It was getting cold and the sun was covered by a continent of cloud and I shivered a little and wished I could have just one fucking onion ring.
We drove home and I was the silent one in the group. They all pretended to care about my burns but I just stuck my lip out and watched the trees go by on either side, all in a mushy green blur.
I was the last one with Rich when the day was over. This felt like a triumph. I was still sitting in the backseat though. He drove into his driveway and said he had a great day and said he was tired and said he had plans. I asked him if he was going to the TriBeca bar later and he said maybe and that was enough and then he put his hand on my shoulder and I felt a heavy, concentrated pain rush through me as his skin lit the burn, but I hid the pain and smiled and got out of the car holding a long and perfectly content expression. I held it together.
I felt pieces of my skin fall off of me as I left and wondered if Rich saw, if he picked some up, if he liked it, like jewels.
I rode home on my bicycle in the darkness with the sounds of the city and the night washing over me. Everything was still and isolated. There was a sadness in it all and I felt really alone. I put my hand under my shirt as I got to my street and searched for hairs. If I found one, I thought I would feel better or feel something else.