Coppertone

Sarah Manley

When I was a child I was not allowed to suntan. My grandmother told me it would make me throw up. It’s true I did throw up a lot. If I ate pork or went for a long car drive in the back seat of her 1974 Triumph with the sticky hot brown seats. The smell of liquid Gravol still makes me retch, I so closely associate it with waves of sick. The sun tanning thing though was a bone of contention. Before I went outside to the saltwater pool at our country house in Discovery Bay, she would lather me in Coppertone lotion from the green top bottle. It was my bottle. The lotion was thick and white. The other kids would already have chosen sides in Marco Polo by the time I got to the pool. They didn’t need lotion, weren’t forced to use it by their own mothers who were covered in the oily orange top Coppertone. Hell, they could use baby oil if they wanted, but not me. I stamped impatiently while the cream was rubbed into every exposed inch of flesh.  At 11 am sharp I had to come out of the sun.  The midday sun was the worst so between eleven and three I was not allowed in the pool or on the beach. I accepted this all as fact for a long time although I wondered why the other kids did not have such strict rules. It was the throwing up,  apparently. 

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Politics Time

Karen Bumi Marks

My father kept the plan for his dream house rolled up in a cardboard tube in the dresser in his bedroom. Blue ink lines with numbers on thin white paper, every time he pulled it out to show me, Daddy always said, “The foolish man builds his house on sand, but the wise man builds his house on rock.” It was his favorite quote from the Bible. Looking at it was boring, but his voice would rise and fall with excitement as he showed you the length of every wall in the house, the size of every room and closet. It was going to be split level and we were all going to have our own bathroom. Daddy had the house all mapped out; he just needed the land to build it on.

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The Incident

KRYSTAL A. SITAL

I’m reading at my desk in the library, the room at the center of our house, and we pulse together like a heartbeat. My mother dusts and shines the surfaces around me.

Krys chile raise yuh book, she says. I clap the opened Nancy Drew novel to my chest and recline in my chair. She hums to herself as she sprays then wipes the desktop. The gray laminate shines. Pulling myself back up, I remember how proud my father was the day he’d finished building this library for my sister and me, an entire room for studying, a luxury he didn’t have growing up.

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