Rita Ciresi is author of the novels Bring Back My Body to Me, Pink Slip, Blue Italian, and Remind Me Again Why I Married You and the story collections Sometimes I Dream in Italian and Mother Rocket. She is director of creative writing at the University of South Florida and a mentor for the Bay Path University online MFA in nonfiction writing.
The waves lap the shoreline with their pale green tongues and the wind carries my dead mother’s name over the dunes. I drop my duffel bag next to a woman who could be my mother’s age. She lies splayed out on a towel like a slab of lean white angel fish, well-buttered and ready to be devoured. Some children hover nearby splashing each other by the shore.
Despite her age the woman’s breasts are perfectly round and perky, her lips unnaturally plump and her stomach is a flat board of corded muscle. Enhanced, tucked, injected. No doubt. She is beautiful in her desperation to be the woman she knows herself to be.
Inspired, I peel off my black tee, kick off my sandals, toes sinking into the burning sand and then drop my trunks and am naked before the sun. She doesn’t notice me at all. I open my bag, the same bag I carry to the beach every day, but have never dared to open before and take out my new skin, stretch it over my pale flesh clinging tight to it like fish hooks and pull my new face over the old and snap it in place with rivets.