Mirene Arsanios


El Payon Beach

Inside, the walls are white, an unusual choice for that decade. The glow makes Alexandra squint. She can see L’s dying body on a blue waterbed. White amplifies her breath, Alexandra thinks, noticing the yellow thickness of her nails, the telescopic porosity of her skin, and the tan on her face. L has been tanned since 1972. “Where did you get that color?” “On El Payon Beach,” L would reply. Alexandra contemplates the wall where an ashen and unframed photograph hangs: palm trees, a stretch of white sand, then the sea, as if someone were spying on the tropics. With each breath, L takes her knowledge away from where Alexandra stands, in the room, battling the wall’s glow as if the light were white.

Alexandra picks a fig from a shoebox containing dried fruits and walks towards L until her groin meets the wavy edge of the waterbed. She is close and can’t tell where one object ends and the other begins. Her eyes are now accustomed to the ambient light. She would like to get closer to L’s body but doesn’t know how. What if I climbed on the waterbed and got myself on top of L? thinks Alexandra. By osmosis, I could acquire her tan. But L’s body is frail; her bones are parched river beds where life streams are as thin as the dental floss Alexandra would wrap around her grinding teeth if she could. Instead of climbing L’s body, Alexandra holds out her hand to her but L turns her head the other way, to the right, towards the window, knowing that a window is not a door.