Beth in Her Swimsuit

You know how when you first start out as a writer, you send your shitty first short story to The New Yorker and The Paris Review? Well, yeah, I did that. But of the submissions when I understood, when I knew what it meant to “read before submitting,” Pithead Chapel was one of my very first real submissions. And very first real rejections.

He fell asleep, crashed really, in his clothes that smelled like her house: lavender oil and freshly ground coffee. When he woke at three am to piss he climbed back into bed on top of me, pressing his dick against my thigh. “I want you,” he said, and I fucked a man who smelled of lavender oil and coffee.

After that young rejection, I submitted to them a handful more times, to no avail. Several rejections, a few withdrawals. Until finally, this. I felt like I won the lottery. I’d cracked their code!

I wrote Beth in Her Swimsuit in one sitting last September and instantly sent it off to my writing buddy, and then it took me weeks to force myself to fine tune it. Which is basically my method. I sent it to my agent, despite me thinking it was too weird for her (but “I want to read your bonkers story, obviously,” is what she said) and we had it rejected from a few places, and then I saw a writer friend, Monet Thomas, tweet something like Pithead Chapel just picked up one of the weirdest stories she’s ever written, and I thought: OH. Remember Pithead Chapel. Not exactly my go-to for weird. But it is now.

The story is basically an exploration of how I think the inside of a woman’s mind is a horror story.

“Are you scared?”

Knock. Knock.

“I’m not scared,” I say. “Right?”

Knock.

Knock.

“I’m not trapped,” I say.

Silence.

I slide down the wall, my cheek cold against the porcelain floor and I can’t remember the last time I mopped right here and I curl my spine and if only I could snap it, make a corner, an edge, a fold in my backbone and make myself foldable, portable. Smaller. I want to fold up. I want to fit in tiny places.

“I’m not trapped,” I say to the floor. “I like it.”

I hope you like it. Read it here in Issue 6, Volune 3: https://pitheadchapel.com/beth-in-her-swimsuit/

Short list of things I can never tell Joseph:

  1. There is a voice inside the wall, the one between the stove and the pantry.
  2. I think about him and Beth constantly.
  3. I have seen two other photographs of Beth in a swimsuit and the first time took a while to sink in: I went to the fridge and ate one whole block of tofu and six baby carrots but nothing else that entire day. The second was immediate and I stopped eating at 11 a.m., right when I was getting hungry for lunch. The hunger felt like progress at first and then I stopped noticing.

I can’t tell Joseph any of this because it’s been going on too long and I just don’t want to hear him say “Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” all disgruntled and put-out.

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