Nothing jiggles. Not a hair out of place. Skin a perfect bronze, museum-quality. The bather stoops to the warm water, buttocks tight mounds. Water dribbles down the flat back, outlining hips and an ironing board stomach. Liquid crystals reflect sun and sky, almost blinding me. Jealousy surges, stronger than the languid swells lapping the beach’s edge.
I lean back on my elbows. Kids kick up sand as they run past the faded whales of their suburban hoi-polloi parents. I feel more than see Sam flip on his back, watching me behind polarized lenses. I turn towards him. Already his shoulders streak red where he’s missed the sunscreen. Sweat glistens on his forehead which, suddenly, looks higher than this morning. He follows my gaze.
“He’s not so great,” Sam says.
“Who?” I say.
His head swivels to the shoreline, to the Perfect One, joined now by another taut body. “That guy in the blue thong,” he says. “I mean, look at that gut.”
As if on cue, the man turns in profile. A small, very small, roll of skin flubs over the speedo’s top.
“Oh,” I say. “Yeah.”
Sam stares towards the horizon. I carefully push up from the sandy blanket, pulling down on my top. I look down at the fleshy mountains straining against spandex. Still perky, still firm. I suck in my stomach, clench my ass muscles, and make my way to the water, to better compare the competition.