Friday, August 22, 2014

Cuento de Mi Id

“The Last Day of Summer”

It was the last day of summer, and there was no one else on the beach.

Normally the beach would be quite crowded this time of year but now for some reason, it was empty. Quite empty.

Must be all the stuff that happened in Matamoros that did it, Callie thought. Stuff like that usually scares away the tourists; in fact, it always does.

But not her. She had waited too long for this break, this vacation. Waited too long for this week which was now drawing to a far too rapid end.

She had waited too long for a lot of things. Perhaps that was why she finally decided to kick off her flip-flops, strip off her bikini and plunge into the warm waters of the Gulf.

Not that it mattered. There was no one around to see. No one around for miles. And her friends back at the beach house had their own dates -- and undoubtedly they were already doing things with them that were far more daring.

But Callie did not feel sorry for herself. No, Callie was too good a person to do that. Better to hold it in. To swallow it down. To pretend it did not exist.

She did not need a date. She never did. She never will. She probably would not know what to do with a man even if she did meet one.

But she did know how to swim. She took lessons at the Y. And no matter how depressed she felt tonight, there was no way she was going to emulate that Crissie girl in the Benchley novel. She was much smarter than that.

Just swim to the buoy and back, she thought. Simple. In fact, she could do it dog-paddling. And no one on the shore could see her. No one at all.


She touched it.

Now swim back, she thought.


Before the sharks come.

Not that they will come, of course. You don't find many man-eaters in the Gulf. But then there is always a first time.

So Callie closed her eyes to protect them from the salt. And she swam back to the beach, stopping every so often to check for triangular fins.

But there were none.

Told ya, she thought.

Sharks are the world's oldest movie cliché, anyway. Stuff like that doesn't happen to people like Callie in real life. It just doesn't.

But it could.

Good thing she's not having her period.

They are attracted by blood, you know.

But the deed was done. She was through. She was finished.

She stood up and walked out of the water, feeling more than a little brazen.

Imagine me, she thought. Callie Martin, an actual skinnydipper.

She smiled and then glanced toward her clothes.

Only to notice that they weren't there.

But they were just there a few minutes ago, she thought. I know. I saw them.

Then where did they go?

Instinctively, she covered herself. Wrapped her arms around her torso as much as for warmth as for modesty.

The night wind was feeling quite chilly upon her backside and Callie was already beginning to regret her impulsive midnight swim.

Where are my clothes? she thought. Where are they?

She thought of what her friends back at the beach house would say if they saw her now. The inferences they would make and the assumptions that would not be true.

She thought about her parents and her grandparents and the kids back in high school. Kids she'd never thought she'd see again after graduation but who were bound to come into her life again once the scandal hit.

Then Callie saw a young Mexican girl up upon the dunes. She was wearing a red bikini. Her red bikini. Callie knew that much by instinct.

The girl was not facing her, choosing instead to concentrate on a pair of flip-flops she was putting on. Her flip-flops! They had to be.

In spite of her nakedness, Callie ran up to the girl and grabbed her arm.

"Those are my things!" she started to yell. But then the words died in her throat.

The face that looked back at her had once been pretty -- but no more. It was much battered and scarred. Nor did the scars stop at the girl's face. They ran all down her body as if they were seams -- invisible from a distance, of course, but all too visible up close.

If that were the worst of it, Callie might have continued. But she had already felt the girl's arm. Felt the girl's leathery arm. And she also smelled the aroma of something oozing up from the girl's body.

Then the girl grinned. Not a gold-toothed grin but it was quite obvious to Callie that the teeth did not match up with the girl's lips. Nor did the knife which the girl produced from within her bikini bottom's waistband.

Callie screamed but the girl just laughed. A harsh, masculine laugh that could not have come from such a girl under normal circumstances.

Then Callie ran. Not toward the beach house. But toward the sea.

She reached the surf before the Mexican girl did. She dived into it without a moment's hesitation and surfaced only after she had passed the shallow area. Then she swam out toward the buoy.

Only then did she turn around.

Only then did she notice that the Mexican girl was not following her into the sea. In fact, she was quite content to wait for Callie upon the shore with the knife still in her hand.

Callie let go of the buoy and dived into the sea. When she surfaced again, the girl was still waiting for her on the beach. Her arms were crossed this time, but she was still waiting. And as the girl started to sit down upon the sand, Callie suddenly realized that the girl could very well wait there all night.

That's okay, she thought.

I'll just wait her out.

I can swim. I can tread water. But apparently she can't do any of that or else she'd be out here already.

Good thing for me.

Now I just have to wait for dawn to arrive.

As soon as people start showing up on the beach, she'll have to move. Granted, the results might be a little embarrassing for me, but better that than whatever thing that girl had in mind.

Besides, she thought, I'm a lot warmer here in the ocean than I would be on the beach.

So warm, in fact, that Callie never really felt the onset of her period until the first drops of blood hit the water.

And a black triangle started zigzagging its way through the ocean behind her.

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