This girl from my hometown started an OnlyFans. Like me, she’s pushing thirty; knees that pop when we squat down, regret already calcifying in our bones. A couple of kids—I’m nuclear, hers live with her sometimes. It’s a small town. Large plots and small circles, so people talk.
In one of her pictures, all leg and lacy thong, I can see their drawings stuck to the fridge. Alphabet magnets and cats—it could be my fridge. But I married a New Englander, and we migrated north; him flocking home, me a foreign species. My friends were jealous. At parties, his friends discussed film, name-dropped cities. All I knew was the sun, and how to live beneath it. He bought me a lamp for the winter. We had kids, and I stayed.
The school pickup line is long, and I’m glad my car has heated seats. Tilting my phone away from the windows, I watch her videos with my chin touching my chest. It starts to snow. Whole, perfect flakes melt on my windshield.
In her profile, she’s got long hair like a mermaid. Like she could swim under ice with the narwhals. But her face through a filter has come out with one eye higher than the other, and it’s this that makes me subscribe. Repayment for the time she donated to my brother’s Gofundme even though he ghosted her. The time we ended up in the same pool, her pulling me up before my eight-year-old self drowned.
I think of breaking out of the pickup line, peeling through miles of country. Rocky hills turning lush, tangling green. Rolling up to her place, a coffee stirrer dangling off my bottom lip. Taking her somewhere like Paris, Texas, my husband’s favorite movie. Sketching her from behind the one-way mirror, a life-jacket around her neck. Drawing one eye all the way up in the middle of her forehead. When she asks about it, shrugging. I can’t tell her about the filter, so I’ll reference Picasso. A guy did it. I can too. Let’s fugue. But all I got from that movie was loneliness.
Instead I’ll slide into her DM’s, tell her she doesn’t need the filter. Send kiss emojis to each of her level eyelids, creased like mine with lines from crying, from smiling. Tell her that drowning looks different from above.
The truth is, I wouldn’t know.
My rearview mirror is a mother, a good wife. In a terrarium mimicking home, dreaming of seafood. And other women.
We’ll drive west to an ocean we’ve never seen. Stand together in water that will age anything agitating it, salting our skin under the sun like we are on the menu. Mermaid hair sticky, stinging our eyes shut, dissolving our features until we are whispers, wives’ tales, fish bodies frothing into sea foam.
This is the reckoning I know; Kate Chopin assigned in high school like a remedy, like drowning can save us.
The melted snow runs down my windshield, and I don’t wipe it away. This is me, underwater.