Something Like Florida
by Anthony Gallo
The young men take off their shirts and their sweat glistens like oil. The muscles on their chests curve brightly and the fat men still wear their clothes somewhere else on the beach. The young men run from the blue fold-out chairs and the yellow fold-out chairs and the white umbrellas that they pushed into the ground and the little red coolers full of beers and the littered cans of the ones they’ve already drunk. They run across the sand that bursts behind their feet to the ocean full of fish they knew the names of in school, but don’t anymore — full of vegetation that has soaked in salts from the sea, full of empty beer bottles, and crashing waves that meet the shore and all the people who stand there. The men dive in. They flex muscles as they push and grab and lift each other. They flex muscles as they point towards the women with breasts that shimmer and lips that remind them of something they’d want to bite into and hair that is wet and sticking to skin.
“Do you want a beer?”
“No, we don’t drink beer.”
“Then what do you drink?”
The women turn their heads and one giggles and another slaps the giggler’s arm and tells her to stop. One young man smiles at the women then pushes his hair back and shows his teeth some more.
Behind him the others splash and lock arms around necks and one of them splashes too hard and hits the women. They frown and walk away. The men pay attention to where their bikini bottoms stop and where their skin curves.
“We’ll get them some other time.”
“Them or any other.”
The young men jump on each other, grabbing and pushing, and yell upwards towards the sky.
In the beach parking lot a woman and man sit on plastic chairs and watch over their small children. The woman wears an over-sized t-shirt with an illustration of a woman’s body in a bikini. The body on the shirt is slender all the way up to her chest, then rounds and becomes curvaceous. The man takes a glance when he can. He watches the real body that never moves from under the t-shirt. The woman lifts a plastic cup that she says is soda, but is really vodka and soda. She holds it to her lips. The man knows what she drinks and wishes he had some himself. But his wife never lets him drink. Six years ago he hit her. Still to this day he believes she deserved it, and so does she. The man doesn’t want to look at his kids and the young men with their shirts off. He looks at the forgotten sand castles — archer’s towers crumble and moats dry out and the front gates look crooked and ready to fall. He focuses on the cars that sleep beside him, between white parking lines and hot from the sun.
“I feel like a car, stagnant and waiting for someone to step inside me.”
The woman sighs. “Harry, you’ve been drinking?”
“I haven’t had a drink in six years. But I wish I had.”
The young boy sits in the sand and the voices of a man and woman buzz from the radio by his side. He digs his toes into the sand and rubs his soles back and forth, and picks up a pile in his hand, pours it over his scalp, and in his hair. He thinks it feels like a thousand warm things on his body because it is a thousand warm things on his body, and he wonders if anyone has ever thought like this before. He tries to feel every grain that rolls across his heated skin. But he can’t.
The radio buzzes.
“Florida has experienced another sink-hole this weekend due to, what experts say is, the combination of the lands high concentration of limestone and the corrosion experienced by water exposure.”
The boy doesn’t like this man’s voice and changes the radio station. The box hums and crackles as the boy turns the knob left and right.
“The heart breaks because it was meant to break,” the radio buzzes again. “We breathe from our lungs because we were meant to breathe from our lungs — is it not obvious? If your heart is broken then you are doing exactly what you were meant to do. Do not stop. Praise it. Love the ache because the ache was born from the bliss and will lead to the bliss and if you are lucky it will ache again. The heart was meant to break and so let it break.”
The boy likes this woman’s voice and wishes she would keep talking. But she doesn’t. Out in the ocean he sees men with muscles he hopes he will have soon. And above them is the sun, setting. Around its edges the colors begins to fade to a dull orange and the sky around it becomes violet and calm, and he tries to feel every glint of the sun’s rays. But he can’t. The boy tries to understand what the woman said about the heart, and about why Florida had so much limestone if limestone made holes. He looks down at his toes and the sand that covers them and he thinks maybe the heart is something like Florida.
Anthony Gallo is from Bellingham, Wa. He is currently traveling across the Southwest region of the United States while working with non-profit organizations.
Stories @ Digging Through the Fat: Volume 2, Issue 16
June 10, 2015
Photography by: Gessy Alvarez
One thought on “Stories No. 35 – Anthony Gallo”
The stages of life in all its misery and joy — this is a fantastic piece of writing. So many pieces of beauty, too, including the stunning last line, but also this: “He thinks it feels like a thousand warm things on his body because it is a thousand warm things on his body, and he wonders if anyone has ever thought like this before.”
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