I recently wrote a short story for an anthology called Girls of Summer. It’s a sequel to my novel, Alice in Monologue Land. The anthology has been taken down from Amazon, so here is the story in chunks. I hope you like it.
Copyright 2015 by Amy Gettinger
This is a work of fiction, originally published in the anthology, Girls of Summer. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Apples, Goat Cheese, and a Red Bikini (In France!) Part 1
July 9, 2004
“Let’s go back to Carmen’s. Gotta pee.” Sandee Kinney hopped a little, her pink-and-blue-striped ponytail flapping as she picked her way up the rocky beach toward the path back to Cassis, a Mediterranean village near Marseille. (In France!)
“Wait.” Fran Whittier put a hand on her sunhat to keep it from flying off in the whipping wind. She gazed over the heaving Gulf of Cassis toward Cap Canaille: an impressive, layered rock formation, the highest sea cliff in Europe. Which, in typical stony French fashion, had completely ignored Fran’s question. What good was a wise old rock that wouldn’t help a girl with her problems?
“But …” Fran stood up. The two girls had spent the afternoon on a small, pebbly beach called Plage de Corton, five minutes’ walk to the west. When some cute guys toting surfboards had sauntered by, the girls had followed them here to rocky Plage de l’Arène, where the guys had joined a couple dozen surfers catching some nice waves.
Of course, the girls were just curious. The surfers weren’t that good-looking, with their Roman noses and intense gazes and long, muscular frames. On the beach itself, there was no one else except two skinny boys in tight French maillots and sandals. Maybe seven or eight years old, they were shrieking at the surfers riding the swells.
“Remy! Basile!” they shouted, jumping up and down. “Allez, allez, allez!”
“Frannie!” Sandee said. “There aren’t any public restrooms around here.”
“Oh, use a bush! I’m not done here!” Fran’s time in Europe was about up. She would not be hurried away from this gorgeous scenery (in France!) “Or ask to use somebody’s toilet.” She pointed inland, where creamy old villas with orange tile roofs sat amid brilliant green vineyards and olive groves.
Sandee scrunched her nose. “Frannie! These people scowl when you ask to use a bathroom. Or else it’s filthy. I’m going back to Carmen’s.” She took off down the pathway towards the sleepy town, where their friend Carmen Polaski had rented a summer villa that the two girls were sharing this week. Before that, Fran and Sandee had done a two-week tour of Europe using Eurail passes. They were due to go back to Southern California in four days—back to work, freeways, cheeseburgers and college.
And Fran hadn’t even had a European kiss yet.
“Chickenshit!” Fran yelled at Sandee’s retreating form. Seriously. Why not squat behind a cypress tree? Mothers here let children pee everywhere. She turned back toward the beach to beseech the giant boulder one last time.
“What’s next for me?” she asked it. “Two years of general education at Garden Beach College: done. European adventure: nearly done. Now what do I do? Study ichthyology? Race cars? Become an astronaut? Learn Chinese?”
Nothing but stony silence from the Cap.
“Hey, rock! I don’t have all day!”
The surf pounded.
“Stupid rock.” She turned her attention to memorizing the whole sparkling scene—azure sky, foamy waves, olive-green cypress and scrub plants, red-and-gold-striated cliffs, chunky white beach, jumping kids. And gorgeous surfers—worth some serious memorizing. California had surfers, but French surfers (In France!) were just so cool, or blasé or—hard to put a finger on it, but vive la difference.
Her hat flew off as the wind picked up. She scrambled to grab it before it blew off into the trees behind her. When she turned back toward the ocean, three surfers were riding a huge wave toward the beach. A tall, handsome dude rode a red board off to the left side. A stockier guy took the middle, and a young teen navigated all the way in and beached his board right by the kids, smiling and breathless.
“Remy! Chouette!” the kids yelled, excited. “Mais où est Basile?”
Watch for my next installment later this week!