by Jonathan Cardew
My ice cream melted. A bronzed Spaniard strode out of the ocean, glistening. Naked and glistening. The water droplets like a thousand eyes winking all over her body.
I licked my wrist and thumb, and I crossed my legs.
Later, I won a cake at bingo and ejaculated into my cupped palm, much like the ice cream.
“Sit up straight!” my mother said. “Sit up straight!”
Despite sinking into a prescription drug malaise.
Down the hatch! — her motto.
I slouched over my paella and shoveled it all up: shrimp, beans, beans, mussels, ham, ham, ham, ham, ham, ham.
La Concha. I laid out my towel, securing each corner with a shoe or stone. The heat sizzled and slapped against every inch of flesh. I popped a pill — my mother’s — and I waited for the ice cream boy.
“Funny how the sun is a million miles away, but you can still cup it in your palm,” I said to him.
“Ice cream?” the boy asked, sweat in his eyes, squinting.
“Si,” I said, trying out my Spanish.
He looked at me, like I meant it. Like I really, really meant it.
I ate, slept, burned.
My mother flopped on the hotel bed like Venus.
“Your father called,” she said, before sleep smoothed her forehead. “That bastard.”
I was in my bath towel; I was on fire. One look in the mirror confirmed everything: I was a lobster.
The cool shower was not cool.
I threw the complimentary soap at the wall; it slithered down.
I slung my bag over my shoulder. The hotel corridor was dark. The outside, dark. I walked down to La Concha, counting my steps like a nutter.
577: the distance.
At the beach, I laid down. I waited. I waited for what?
Licks of wind soothed my skin. The burn was not a burn any more — just a numbness. A shield.
I waited for the Spaniard.
Jonathan Cardew’s writing appears in Cream City Review, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, Superstition Review, and Wigleaf, among others. He edits fiction for Connotation Press. He makes spaghetti for his mum. Find more of him at Twitter: @cardewjcardew.