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We sit on the patio, the table drenched in white linen. I press the pads of my fingers into the cushion of my chair and I sit up straight. The furniture is wicker, but not old creaky wicker like at my Grandmother’s house, broken and bleached gray in the sun. This is new, all natural wickerwork. The sun is setting, casting a rosy hue against the clear water of Meredith’s infinity pool. Her staff quietly slips around us to light the tiki torches.

I’ve had two glasses of Krug Grand Cuvee with fresh raspberries at the bottom of my glass. Each time I take a drink, I try to grab one with my tongue. But, the berries slip from my lips and teeth, dancing on bubbles just out of my reach. My laughter is too harsh, too loud, like broken crystal against the stamped concrete beneath my feet. Sabine rests a hand on my arm, a quiet warning.

“You have no class,” Meredith says to me and I feel myself sinking – drowning in all that white linen and champagne. Blood is in the water and the sharks crowd near. Sabine is watching me, chin tilted up high, eyes shifted to mine. The table stretches out like a piece of the salt water taffy we used to buy in the summers in Cedar Point. All the women stop talking and wait.

My first thought? My first inappropriate thought? “I want.” It is a line of barbed wire that my bark has grown around. This thought, this need cannot be separated from my pulpy flesh. To cut the barbs away would kill me at this point. I want. I want more than I have. I was born with the wanting.

I want more than some little shitty farmhouse in West Virginia. More than Chapter 7 whispers spread out in some suburban nightmare. More than tiny faces covered in grape jelly, lips smacking for messy kisses.

My second thought? “How does she know?” How does Meredith know how to hone the point of her spear so finely? How does she know to shoot at my heel?

I look at Meredith who stares back at me with a defiance born on fine Egyptian cotton. I’m smart, I think. I’m beautiful in ways that other girls in Beckley were not. My slyness, my clever brain, pretty pond water green eyes – these are the very definition of me. I believe it, I believe it, I do. I’ve had to.

And, what defines Meredith? Her fake tits? Her new nose? Or, maybe its those bulges beneath her silver Dior gown suggesting all that liposuction to come. I’ve been places where sequins and sparkly eye shadows don’t recommend elegance, they proffer dark stages and horny truckers parked right off Interstate 77.

Sabine, too, is waiting for my response. Her eyes, like the stilted lilt of her voice, are very Dutch. Those eyes are a clear lake on a summer day. Inviting, but you can still drown here. Enter at your own Risk. No lifeguard on duty. She has sponsored me here, amongst these fine ladies. My reflection is in her waters.  Her husband, my husband, brothers born of Hermes ties. I belong here, I belong here, I do. I will. I swear it.

“What is class?” Sabine says as she sets her champagne flute down. “In one so beautiful? In one so young?”

Meredith throws her head back and laughs. Her hair, a sly mink sliding down over her shoulders. She nods at Sabine. “It’s everything, darling.”

Notes:

  1. Graphic taken from “Evolution of Maori clothing, by Te Rangi Hiroa” found in the Journal of the Polynesian Society http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/document/Volume_33_1924/Volume_33,_No._129/Evolution_of_Maori_clothing,_by_Te_Rangi_Hiroa,_p_25-47/p1#
  2. This story is what happens when you watch too much Real Housewives because it’s readily available on http://www.hulu.com.
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