From WTP Vol. V #2
By Rocio Anica
I liked him right away, because it was five o’clock in the morning and I was the only person in the hotel pool. In that early light, the sky reflected pink as he wandered onto the scene of my unholy-sunrise worship. He’d brought blue alcohol with him. I was fine with this because you have to immediately like or appreciate the people who remind you of you, especially of the parts you try to hide.
Some of you might not know what I’m talking about here, but those who do know can attest to a You who lives somewhere right behind your eyelids; every time you look into another person’s eyes, That You ducks behind the bushes and curls into a fetal position until the moment has passed. I believe when, after a while, That You forgets to duck and hide, and even begins to wink at That Them, beginning the slippery slope that leads to the full-frontal nudity that is watching, weeping, waiting. Eventually, That You becomes a full-time exhibitionist, and this is called true love.
So maybe I loved him right away, but I ignored him anyway. Me, swimming in circles, a shark. He, walking around the pool, watching me. I turned over to float on my back. The moon sighed into the sweeping quiet of a desert shaking off its scales of sleep.
Eventually, he came over and looked down into my face. I didn’t move, which was basically the answer he was looking for. I followed him into the hot tub.
I didn’t bring cups, he said. We’ll swig from the bottle.
In my hand, the bottle looked enormous. In his birth-marked grip, it looked like a toy. The birthmarks ran all the way up his arm to his neck. He caught me staring at the dappled spots, the pink color of inside a baby’s mouth. They’re not birthmarks, he said. This is because of a sunburn last year. It turned into this.
In between swigs, I noticed there were insects drowning in the hot tub. I wanted to kiss them. Their tiny bodies with their small arms were frantically trying to deal with the situation they had flung themselves into.
I asked him to help me pull out all the drowning insects. He complied, because he loved me.
When he asked for a hug, I—loving him—gave him one. We finished the blue bottle, and he told the bottle, People usually treat me like I have leprosy.
Everything around us nodded in harmony, because everything was listening in everything’s glorious infinity: about his first kiss, his mother, where he went to school, and about how much he hated life as an immigrant in America. Being American, of immigrants, and hating myself, I said that I understood.
Then he apologized for having to leave to catch an early flight and asked did I maybe want to help him pack, but I stayed behind. Sadly, I was busy. I was in the middle of listening to everything.
I got out and returned to the pool. Floating on my back again, I stared up at the last of silver eyes winking at me—goodbye, have fun today—as they caught their own flights to rejoin their billion-upon-trillion friends, and That Me winked back—okay thank you, see you later—for the both of us, so that maybe we could sleep.
Rocio Anica is currently in the MFA fiction program at Cornell University where she teaches. Publications include Driftwood Press, Acentos Review Awards, and Ohio Edit; awards include Juxtaprose Magazine’s 2016 Short Fiction contest. Rocio is at work on a novel about a Chicanx, DIY street artivism, surfing, misfits, and road-tripping. An excerpt is forthcoming in Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas. Find her at rocioanica.com.