Sexy. That was the image she wanted to capture.
In public, image was her purpose. In private, she prepared it. Whatever she did, her image was her ulterior motive. She didn't just sit down and dip her toes into sea water. She dipped freshly pedicured toe nails, smooth and shapely feet, attached to smooth and shapely legs, crowned with high-waisted denim shorts into water and quietly posed looking natural, but feeling like a photo in a magazine.
She was aware of the men’s approval. She caught the turn of their heads and lengthened glances out of the corner of her eye. Women looked too, but with envy. She’s so skinny and smooth, their looks said and she imagined they suddenly felt dumpy and unkempt. The men simply wanted to get those long legs of hers apart. Perfect, exactly the reaction she wanted. A surge of power hit her and settled into a steady flow, she basked in the glow generated by their desire to be her, to have her.
Some of the men thought they had a chance, like the one who owned the super luxury yacht. Other men, like the one bringing crates of alcohol onto the deck, knew they didn't. The owner of the boat had been eyeing her up since her travelling group had met up with him this morning at breakfast. He’d held the door for her when they had exited the restaurant and had placed his hands firmly on her waist as he’d passed her in the courtyard. She had to admit the young guy sweating with the crates had something. His muscles rippled under his brown, gleaming skin as he hoisted and carted those crates. And she enjoyed his less refined glances. Maybe she’d flirt with him later just for fun.
She skimmed the water with her toes and leaned back on her slim, toned arms. She tilted her head back because that is what a girl does while sitting by the water, it emphasises your slender neck and long, highlighted hair. A few of the local girls were shrieking and splashing water on one another, chasing and laughing. The water moulded their tops around their breasts, bras and no bras were revealed. She wondered what it would be like to get attention that way without meaning too and in a group. But the ladies on the yacht were her competition, the girls on the dock her inferiors. They’d be the types to get together with the crate boy later and he was looking their way each time he walked by.
She looked down at her feet. Small waves forced water up against her calves. Was the water contaminated she wondered and mentally cringed. She was freshly showered, softened, deodorised and scented. Sterile and sleek. At the salon the day before her flight she’d had a manicure as well as a pedicure, fake tan applied and the show girl body wax. Not just her legs and underarms waxed, but her forearms, fingers, eyebrows, and chin. Lower back, tummy, bum and toes. And her pubic hair narrowed down to a landing strip. At home, she shaved off dark hairs that grew around her nipples. She wasn't ashamed of waxing fingers, toes and back, because all the women she knew waxed there, she’d be ashamed not to, but the nipples. If the thought of those nasty hairs in unladylike places crossed her mind outside of her apartment, it was abruptly banished. Any notion of an undesirable genetic line was locked up in the tower. Feminine women didn't have hair on their nipples, she was sure the other ladies at the gym didn't, but who would ask or admit. The thought, cropping up now, disappeared behind iron bars as she swished and observed and posed. Her make-up came to mind. It was waterproof and had been carefully applied this morning and retouched, she wouldn't need to check on it until they boarded the boat.
The yacht owner was telling the crate boy off for leaving the supplies in the wrong place. They were both good looking, but only one had the assets. By now she’d found out about all about the houses and cars he owned and the success of his business, the influential people he knew. His name was Kenneth. Well, that makes me his Barbie, she thought and a bubble of laughter pushed up and tickled her lips. She struggled to suppress it, not wanting to look weird by laughing all alone. The Barbie image suited her sense of self, she was the gorgeous, glossy woman and he her perfect match. And they both excelled at the ultimate power of their gender. Allure and authority.
An old woman in a black dress and head scarf came into view. She was thickset and hunched over and made her way with a graceless gait. The shrieking girls fell quiet as she approached and spoke to them in a distinctly chastising manner. Barbie girl shuddered inwardly, Yuck, she thought. Could you imagine looking like that. Abruptly images of herself escaped and plopped solidly into her mind’s eye. Her, old, lined and saggy. Shapeless and withered. Or worse, as an old woman still grasping on to past glory, slipping down, clawing the unstable ground as those above looked down sneering. Come on give it up, we all know you’ve had numerous operations. Do you think he’d look at you? And then turning away bored as she fell to oblivion.
Blankly staring, her composure cracking, she barely noticed her surroundings, her admirers, or the girls, now subdued, walking away with their grandmother. Only adverse adjectives rapid firing into her brain got her attention. Useless, shunned, powerless, ignored. Useless, shunned, powerless, ignored. IGNORED. And she saw the hordes of young girls, younger than she was now, arising and arising and arising.
* * *
Lisa lives on the West Coast of Ireland with her East German husband, two teenage sons, two dogs, two cats, three chickens and a goat. But, she has not always lived in the countryside where, if more than three cars pass, she takes notice. Lisa grew up in Los Angeles, moved to London for four years and then spent another four years in Berlin. She has a certificate in Child Care, an Honors degree in Irish Heritage and a Masters in Advanced Language Skills German. She knows, for sure, that we must do what we love and what she loves is writing.