Set in South Beach, year 2005.
I awoke a second time to Jaroslava rummaging through the closet, searching for a bikini. Her and one of her model friends were going to spend the afternoon at the beach. Once I fully awoke, I asked if I could tag along. They spoke the same language ( I assume this girl was Czech as well) and I would obviously be the odd man out but I wanted to explore the city so I could be more independent. I didn’t like having to depend on Eddie. They reluctantly allowed me to join them on the walk to the beach.
The sand was hot. It’s always hot in Florida unless it’s hurricane season. Scorched sand ran into my sandals as we made our way closer to the water and laid our towels down, three in a row. I decided to lay on my stomach first because it was high noon and I would undoubtedly burn my face if I laid on my back. Every Floridian knows that you go to the beach between 10-12 or 2-4 otherwise you will leave looking like a lobster. These girls were not Floridians, but they were the best companions I had at the moment!
I had to roll over after fifteen minutes. It was a hundred degrees outside and my body was still dehydrated from the morning’s marathon. I needed to feel the ocean breeze on my face. I propped myself up on my elbows and tilted my head back. A couple of neck rolls would loosen my shoulders, but everything tensed up again when I opened my eyes. It appeared that my companions were accustomed to topless beaches. Both of them were face up, eyes closed, completely topless.
My first concern was that they would get in trouble. There were people everywhere! There were even children and teenage boys creating memories that were sure to last through puberty. I was grossed out by that thought but the lifeguard was only about fifteen feet away and he didn’t seem to be paying the girls any attention.
My second concern was how a sunburn would feel on nipples. I suppose that this is something that men have to deal with regularly, but I counted myself lucky having bypassed that issue altogether by choosing to keep my top on as long as I could remember. I felt so out of place. These girls were exotic and international. I was just a down-home, teenage girl that wouldn’t have laid out topless if there was money involved. I decided that my time would be best spent in the ocean. I walked down to the little waves lapping on the sand, waded to my knees and sat down.
I’ve always played this game with my imagination where I sit down in shallow water and allow myself to believe that the two foot waves rolling towards me are actually over my head and very powerful. Well, when I sit down they are over my head, but I allow myself to forget that I could stand up and any moment and be safe. It sounds stupid but the ocean is a dangerous place, powerful and unforgiving. All it takes is one bad decision and you’re being swept out to see by a rip-tide or sucked under by an under-tow. Thousands of people enter the ocean and never return. I think that there is something so beautiful about that fact. The ocean with all of its power, magnitude and danger is surely the most beautiful sight to behold. There is nothing like it.
I let all concerns wash out of my head and take a deep breath, holding it in for the wave which is about to smash into me. I instinctively turn my head to the side, though the cool, salt water still manages to sting at my eyes. The sand under me is stirring until I feel the sure pull of the ocean, sucking the water back out to see. The tiny grains underneath me pull out and continue shifting backwards long after the entire wave has rushed back to its mother. I feel focused, like my head has been cleansed of its menial concerns and I am a part of something much bigger. The tied has gone out. I’m feeling better, more focused on my motivation for being here. I move quickly to wash the remaining sand off of my body and out of my hair before jogging back to my towel.
My top is staying on and I don’t care if Jaroslava and her friend think that I’m weird. I would call Lindsay tonight and tell her about this and she would think that they were the weird ones. I wish I had a friend here.
I can feel the salt from the ocean drying in the sun and pulling at my skin. I cover my face with the sun dress that I wore to the beach and hope for the best. I wouldn’t know how to get back home without the girls and I didn’t want to bother them more than I already had, so I waited for them to finish their sun-bathing. I could feel the sun baring down on me, but there was no escape. I made a mental note to pick up sunscreen, something with a high SPF next time I went to the store.
When we finally left the beach I knew that I would be red. Not my face because I had protected it with the sundress, but my shoulders and chest were fried. You can feel a sunburn several hours before it takes full effect. Thankfully, Jaroslava kept aloe in the refrigerator (a great secret for bad sunburns). Come to think of it, it was the only thing that she kept in the refrigerator. Jaroslava started out naturally thin but age brought puberty and puberty brought curves that were not allowed in our industry. She didn’t go to the gym or work-out. Instead she would eat cream of wheat for breakfast and allow herself one alcoholic drink when she went outat night. At least I was surrounding myself with people who could understand my struggle. Her hips were 34 inches. I was 36” and struggling hard just to get to 35. Lucky girl.
I fixed myself the allotted amount of tuna. I don’t mind eating tuna when my Mom makes it at home on cheese toast and smothers it with miracle whip, but eating tuna out of a can with no seasonings, no crackers, no toast or even a drink to help wash it down was really difficult. Fortunately, I was ravenous and it made me think back to something my father always says when the dog is being picky with his food, “if it gets hungry enough, he’ll eat it”. I was hungry enough. I ate it.
A shower was much needed but the water felt like stinging nettles on my burn, so I focused on getting the salt out of my hair and getting the cold aloe back onto my shoulders. When I got out of the shower I received a text from Eddie. He wanted me to go for a run with him this evening around his neighborhood. He would pick me up in an hour.
I did not want to go. The soreness from this morning was already setting in and the hunger pains weren’t helping motivate me. People usually starve themselves to get skinny or they work-out excessively. They don’t do both. It’s physically impossible. You have to eat calories in order to have energy to work-out, but Eddie owned an agency and I was an eighteen year old girl with huge hips. It’s not like I could have turned him down anyways. He would have sent me packing. I dressed for a workout and met eddie outside in his white Range rover.
His house was amazing from the outside. It was a mansion and according to him, his neighbor was Ricky Martin. A real celebrity just living next door! That was cool. We got out of the car and Eddie began to run. I was supposed to keep pace but he was much faster than me. He probably consumed calories today, unlike me.
The sun was beginning to go down but it’s Miami and the nights are almost as sweltering hot as the days. It didn’t help that my shoulders were on fire from the sunburn and I could feel my tank top digging into my crisp skin with every movement. I immediately felt a cramp in my side, but Eddie kept looking back to check on me and shouting things about me being slow. I tried to ignore the cramp, to put my hands over my head and breathe, letting in more air, but my arms were tired and a was dripping sweat from every pore. Apparently we were running towards a dead end and Eddie had reached it because he passed me going the opposite direction. He shouted for me to meet him at his house when I was done.
I waited until he was out of sight before I stopped. I wasn’t going to quit. I just needed to slow down. My head was spinning. I walked until I reached the dead end and decided to try running the way back, but my body wasn’t up for it. I ran/walked the whole way back. My mind was telling me that it was the only way to reach my dreams but my body wasn’t interested.
The garage was open at Eddie’s house and I reluctantly went inside but he wan’t there. The room that I had entered from the garage was the kitchen. Being inside this house at all gave me the creeps. Eddie was really no more than a stranger to me. I immediately had a terrible feeling. Eddie called out for me to come in further but I didn’t. If he was going to try to rape me or kill me, I was close enough to an exit to run. I was also close to his knife collection if I couldn’t run. Being the daughter of a chief of olice might make you a little paranoid but it will also keep you very prepared.