I saw a show recently where someone’s stomach got pumped. I got to thinking about a character who might have undergone that, and apparently, she was talking for this prompt.
“It’s like a scene right out of Jaws,” Jane said, eying the beach. She stood on the boardwalk, beach towel and cooler in hand. The beach towel was white, with large blue words that read, “Surf’s up” on one side. She wasn’t a surfer, but the towel, threadbare in places, had been her brother’s. Since he lost his mind and went to school in the frigidity of Canada, she decided he couldn’t be a surfer anymore.
“Oh, it’s not that bad,” her older sister claimed. “Come on.”
They wove between blankets and beach chairs. Boomboxes blared. Babies and little children tipped buckets of water onto piles of sand, and with frantic digging, tried to make tunnels and castles before the sand could dry.
“There’s no space anywhere. And it’s really hot out here,” Jane whined. “Why did we come here again?”
“I’m not missing the holiday weekend at the beach. Not when it’s this nice out. And I can’t exactly leave you home alone.”
Jane’s face flushed. “It’s been a whole year, Sara. I wouldn’t do anything—”
“Yeah, right. Mom and Dad come home tomorrow with Dave to find you OD’ed on the kitchen floor. Nice image. You promised we could do what I want today. I took you to the bookstore yesterday, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, but I hate the beach.”
“Get over it.”
They found a few square feet about three feet back from the tide and spread their towels. Jane sat on hers, wrapping her arms around her knees. Sara rolled her eyes.
“You’re not going to sit there covered head-to-toe.”
“I’m here. What does it matter what I wear?”
“I know you’ve got a bikini on underneath. I had the happy task of checking your closet and dresser last week. You don’t own a one-piece. Show off a little.”
Jane shook her head and chewed her cheek. She’d been clean for over twelve months and had the chip to prove it. But she didn’t want Sara to see the long thin scars she’d made with a steak knife she snagged from the kitchen as soon as Mom and Dad went away for the weekend. If she’d known the beach would be the payment Sara demanded for a full morning at the local bookshop, Jane wouldn’t have cut herself Friday night. She would have waited. Because she knew how Sara was, how she could get—for some reason it mattered to her if Jane was covered up.
“You’re so weird.”
“Thanks,” Jane said, a half smile peeking out. “I resemble that remark.”
Another eye roll. “Whatever. Just be quiet and let me enjoy the sun.”
Jane didn’t nod but she didn’t disagree either. She watched the surf rolling onto the beach, and timed her breathing to each breaker. Breathe out, slam the sand. Breathe in, pull the sand back into the water. She imagined it churning, and her with it, spinning under the water. Dave once told her about a time the riptide had sucked him under. She wondered if it was more uncomfortable than having her stomach pumped. That’s what happened the last time she overdosed.
“I’m going for a swim,” she said. Sara made some noncommittal noise, and Jane stood. She didn’t take off her teeshirt or shorts, but kicked off her flip flops. She hoped some sand got into Sara’s eyes. Jane wove her way toward the water, and when the next wave rolled, she dove under it.
This work of fiction is in response to my writing prompt from this Sunday. All characters and events are completely fictional, and in no way created to represent myself or anyone else I know.