do dragonflies bite, he asked?
mmmmm. i think they’re carnivores. like those plants that eat flies. or tigers.
we were lazing on a giant raft, shifting with the current from one end of the lake to the next. trying to avoid the mosquito havens, the bogs and cattails. the dragonflies always zipping around us, their rainbow iridescence captivating. i loved it when they would land on my toe. why the toe, i wondered? it was 1pm. or maybe 11am. actually, it could have been 4pm. that was what the day was like. time an expansive mix of sweat, angst, lake water, being alone together and together alone, lightning and thunderstorms. the air heavy. the summer of my 16th year.
we were on the world’s biggest inflatable, or maybe the inflatable was our world. bright yellow. was it 10 feet or 15 feet in diameter? no matter. it took approximately 4 years to blow it up, i do remember that. my cheeks were sore from the huffing and puffing. we both worked up a sweat.
we lived on that thing before and after our lifeguard shifts up the road, tending to the other rowdy high schoolers who played games of chicken on each other’s shoulders, or the middle schoolers who would stick the hose down their swimming trunks. no running on the boardwalk! you can’t eat your french fries in the pool! our favorite shift was early to watch the grannies do their water aerobics – we called them water babies – we loved it because they would dote on us and cut a piece of their gooey butter cake, or bundt cake, or crumb cake, or whatever the cake du jour would be. they worked up an appetite, bouncing and twirling and squealing at the loss of gravity in the cool angle of the morning sun.
i was an old enough soul to know that he was not the love of my life, yet i was also a young and naive enough person without much heartbreak and loss yet to think that this was pretty workable for now.
maybe my true love was the lake on nuthatch lane, and that giant floaty that had just the right amount of crevices for budlight and potato chips.
i like your swimsuit, he said. maybe you should take it off.
nah, i said. i don’t need a nipple sunburn.
he shoved me off into the water.
i still dream about that bikini. it was the first bikini i owned. a red, blue, yellow riot like a patchwork quilt. i wore that thing until the elastic fell out of it. typically with cut off jeanshorts that i distressed and tugged and shredded myself with my grandma’s sewing implements. i was wearing that bikini when i snuck out of the house to go to a grateful dead aftershow in st. louis. when i took my first hit of acid. he snapped a photo of me that night, eyes wide, leather ties holding my hair in place. young and alive.