OVERTURE: SOMEWHERE IN NEW JERSEY, 2009. IT’S A WEEKNIGHT IN AUGUST.
Your arms are sloppy around his veiny orange neck. They say the juice heads do it best, but he wouldn’t even pay for your funnel cake...
By Rosie Accola
The sun sets as you’re looking your shellac’d spray-tanned best. You’ve conned your body into a half-off Wet Seal body-con dress. There are sequins scratching against your ribcage, but the lime green light is shining for you and you alone. Summer is swilling the dregs of you around. The air smells like an oceanside locker room full of seaweed and grotesque adolescent aftershave, salt human and oceanic. You skip the line at the club and press the small of your back against the railing that separates the VIPs. The cool metal is a fuck you to Ashley from high school, who told you good luck getting famous.
Your arms are sloppy around his veiny orange neck. They say the juice heads do it best, but he wouldn’t even pay for your funnel cake, and when you said, “let’s go on the rides,” he said, “I’m not really a rides person,” and who does that? What the fuck? Ferris wheels are beautiful.
Concept: Trap six people in a dilapidated shore house, con the landlord into giving you reduced rent by saying he’ll get a fully staffed t-shirt shop. Lure them all with promises of love and a closet full of complimentary bedazzled tracksuits. Slip condoms like mints under their pillows. Cut the wifi, but keep the Costco-sized bottles of tequila flowing. Bring a camera.
Real love’s a hung-over errand. It’s Sunday morning – you’re doing laundry, and the lights are too loud. The washing machines are wheezing emphysemic, painted the same dull pink as diseased gums. You’re wearing old track shorts from high school, with saggy elastic, and a ratty sweatshirt. Who knows if you would have been friends then, but she hands you an iced coffee now.
There’s bronzer streaking down your cheeks. Your new phone is a limp brick in your hand. You’ve got a boyfriend, and he cheats. The summer stretches out before you like a t-shirt on a heat press.
You run towards the tide hand-in-hand. She scratches your palm with a dazzling talon of an acrylic nail. It feels like a blood oath.
“I love you more than anyone I’ve ever known.”
When Joey’s hand brushes the space between the bottom of Giuseppe's rib cage and his waist, he brushes it off the same way he shrugs on a tank top. Giuseppe's girlfriend’s being a real bitch she asked you to help move a couch this weekend. He says, “Hire some movers,” but then he’s thinking about the taste of the space between sweat and skin. They’re at the gym and Joey’s guzzling a purple Powerade.
The tarnished glimmer of the chain that his uncle gave you on his tenth birthday says, “this is not how a man should be,” but they’re sitting side by side at the barbershop, studying the crinkle of sunburn around the shell of his ear.
His girlfriend texts him, but his phone’s on mute.
The scissors snip, they promise not to snitch.
Rosie Accola is queer writer and editor who investigates how reality t.v. functions as autofiction. They graduated with their MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University in 2022. They released their first full-length poetry collection, Referential Body with Ghost City Press in 2019. You can follow them on Instagram @rosieaccola.