The driftwood sculpture danced in the flickering light of the beach fire. Missy and Tyler sat cuddled underneath the cavorting images set against the white glow of the fire light illuminating the ocean mist. Annie sucked down the last of her Sex on the Beach as she watched the shadowy ritual, mesmerized under her blanket wrap as the sounds of Jeff’s guitar floated out over the lilt of the tumbling tide.
“What are you staring at, Pockets?” Billy asked.
Annie hesitated before answering, “At first I thought it was two stags battling, but now it looks like a bird attacking a giant scorpion.”
Billy snorted. “No more drugs for you.”
Annie made a face. “I’m not the one who doses myself on Morphine at the doctor’s office.”
Billy had in fact done just that, on top of a whole pretense that he needed brain surgery. He pretended he didn’t hear Annie’s comment.
“I think it looks like a boy and girl sucking face in public all rude like,” Jessi offered.
Annie laughed. “Not Missy and Tyler, I meant our driftwood sculpture.”
Missy and Tyler barely looked up from their kissing, not long enough to catch the look Jessi shot them. “No, I know,” she said. “I was actually serious. I think it looks like a man and a woman having sex, you know, and she’s on top.”
Annie’s face wrinkled up. She reached under her blanket and into a pocket on the side of her pants. “I think you just have sex on the brain,” she said, pulling out a bottle of nail polish.
Jessi turned to stare directly at Annie’s face. “Maybe… and maybe I lied and I think it looks like two girls.”
An uncomfortable lull in the conversation followed. The sounds Missy and Tyler were making in their impassioned slop fest grew prominent, making the thought impossible not to entertain. Just for a moment… the sounds of the ocean, the womb of all life, massaging their souls… It sent a little shudder through her body.
Billy interrupted the silence by playfully punching Annie in the shoulder. “Sex on the brain is better than drugs on the brain, Pockets. And you need another Sex on the Beach.”
The punch pushed Annie’s face closer to Jessi’s and she looked into her best friend’s eyes as the flickers of the flame danced across them. Their usual green turned to brown in the warm glow.
“What’s up with you and the drugs, Billy?” she asked, still looking at Jessi. You’re the freak who’s on drugs.”
Billy was a freak. That was just a fact. And Billy was on drugs. Annie knew he and Jeff had burned before picking the rest of them up and she was pretty sure they’d sneaked off to re-up while they were all out hunting up driftwood for the sculpture. Jeff was so out there he might as well be on a different planet. He was completely lost in his guitar, strumming the same chords out over and over in no real recognizable songs. Billy refilled Annie’s cup and set it in the sand next to her.
She unscrewed the cap of her polish and began to paint.
“Since when do you have nails?” Jessi asked, her attention suddenly called to the oddity of the polish. She grabbed Annie’s hand for an inspection.
“You like?” Annie pulled her hand back before Jessi really had a chance to see.
“Who paints their fucking nails on the beach? That’s what I want to know.” Billy said.
Annie ignored him. She took a sip from her drink and went back to painting. “What do you think the driftwood looks like, Drughead?” she asked.
Billy stared out at their artistic erection. “Seriously? It looks like a bunch of fucking wood sticking out of the sand.” When it didn’t draw any laughs he added, “No Jessi’s right. I can totally see the girl-on-girl thing. It’s kind of hot.”
Annie smiled. She screwed the cap back on her polish and drew another sip of her drink, scooting closer to the fire. She leaned forward and shoved her hands into the embers. Her freshly painted nails instantly erupted in flames and she pulled them out to admire them.
“Flower!” Jessi shrieked, slapping Annie’s arm.
Missy and Tyler stopped kissing. Jeff stopped playing. For a tiny second the waves stopped crashing and even the driftwood stopped its entangled lovemaking.
“How hot is that?” Annie asked Billy, with a wild look in her eyes. She thrust her blazing digits into the cold sand to extinguish them. She wiggled them around a little. “I think I burned my fingertips off.”
She pulled her hands up out of the sand. The fake nails were gone and her naked fingers were unharmed. “Since when do I have nails?” she grinned.
Jessi snatched up Annie’s nail polish and smelled it. It reeked like pure acetone. “What the fuck is the matter with you, Flower?”
Annie shrugged. “I’ve been hanging around Billy too much, I guess.”
© 2011 Anne Schilde