Honourable mention in the 3rd Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.
Cold? No. I only shivered after I ate the double scoop of vanilla you forced on me; before that, sweat dotted my upper lip and I was bored by your antics, your handstands, your backflips, your silly cries for attention. I knew what you wanted in the end, not just the milk of human kindness, and maybe I provided it back at the motel.
It made you more reasonable and I didn’t mind it most of the time. I’d shut my eyes and pretend that someone else knocked at the door, that he smelled like a slice of cucumber and not like whisky and cigars. But time will not change my complexion in this still. My freshness is unmolested, even now. You, so much older than me, should have known better than to mess with time. Time is everything.
So no, I was not cold. The brain freeze wore off by the end of the hour and except for a ping of a headache I went back to my cheerful self, perspiring in the California sunlight, my white ankles turning pink. I was not cold. The beret made a fashion statement, placed me in the moment and blocked my youthful hair from the heavy sun.
Beyond the facade the only thing frozen there was my smile, frozen in time, how old am I now? In real terms I’m not old—buried somewhere in Hollywood alongside countless other nymphs who never made the cut, who wasted away and wrinkled up and finally checked out of the hotel of dreams. No, don’t count me among them, not this version of me, lithe in the sunlight, oblivious to the stuffed polar bears and the cardboard igloo and the palm trees swaying in the hot wind, and blind to the superficiality of my dreams and to your insidious agenda, you in your billowy vanilla suit and Panama hat that no one will ever see.
What did I know? I knew I was happy to be posing, happy to be lending my image to the world, and to you (and to you), though my name appears nowhere, happy to be smiling at the world, though it never smiled back at me.