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Distracted | Liz deBeer

Sitting under an umbrella to reduce the glare, I’m trying to read on the beach. But I keep getting distracted by my cellulite; it’s more dimpled than ever!

 

My eyes flick over words, but I’m not processing the clues in my mystery novel. I’m wondering instead if my thighs quiver when I walk. Or if my light brown age spots are cancerous. And why my fingernails seem so flaky.

 

Sweaty and sulky, I plunk down my book, sunglasses, and floppy hat, and hustle to the water’s edge, fast because the sand burns my feet. With each step, my thighs jiggle, and I pull at my bathing suit shorts to cover my butt cheeks.

 

I step cautiously into the moving water, but stop to steady myself when a wave crashes in front of me. When another one approaches, I dive through the crest and past my self-doubts.

 

The churning water washing away my cellulite— and my brown age spots, and my brittle nails, and my ingrown toe nail. I’m thirty again, swimming laps at the gym! I’m nineteen, practicing water wheels for my school’s synchronized swim team! I’m twelve, racing friends at overnight camp! I’m five, body surfing with my cousins!

 

After crashing through another wave, my eyes lock on a girl with a dark ponytail who’s floating in a pink inner tube. She lifts her hand in greeting, then rides over a small wave. Treading water, I watch as the girl glides over rippling waves, as if she’s riding a series of bell curves. Her squeals merge with the wind’s whistles and the gulls’ calls: I’m lost in a memory —when I was about the same age and had a similar pink plastic tube and brown ponytail.

 

A jumping fish’s splash startles me back; now I’m treading water in a circle, looking for the girl: “Hey! You okay?” I shout, swimming toward where I last spotted her. Plunging under water, I open my eyes to search. I surface to gasp air before calling out: “Hey kid, where are you?”

 

Nothing. “Hey kid!”

 

Heart racing and eyes stinging, I dive down again to swim a few yards underwater, before bursting back to Oxygen. Where the hell did she go? Did she get caught in a riptide or stuck in seaweed or —what?

 

Scanning the horizon: It’s just dark water spotted with diving pelicans and gulls. I shake my head: Must have been my imagination, or the blinding sun.

 

Whatever it was, it’s now just me, alone in the ocean, staying afloat.

 

Liz deBeer, a language arts teacher who resides in New Jersey, divides her time among many hobbies, including experimenting with different writing genres including eco-fiction and flash. Liz has been published in newspapers, teaching journals and magazines. She is currently writing YA novels with Project Write Now’s book inc., a writing cooperative. Her latest flash has been published in Spillwords Press and Blue Bird Word. Liz's website is www.lizdebeerwriter.com.

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