Maria Anderson



Club members were casual smokers and caffeine addicts, day sailors and retired racers and fat burnt-up rich boys in the mood for adventure. The members worked hard to change their skin color, were known to sweat up a good varnish. They gave their feet great white stripes from boating sandals. They came for the hot glut of a coastline. They rented homes with pools, snowbirded in Haitian trailer parks, drove down dented campers from towns landlocked and cold. They came for clams and hogfish and key lime pie. For gin and street beer and oyster shots. Here J met a new member named Sofia from Moscow, Idaho.


J opened a squashed, sour thing he’d brought for lunch. Held it away from his body so the drippings fell on the dock.

“Diabetes or bust,” said Sofia. She had that wild, achy face. Major set of eyes.

“It’s good for you,” he said. “Kimchi sandwich.”

“Not with that much mayo,” she said.


Soon they were making love inside a registered racing boat in which J squatted illegally. For breakfast he picked up some lousy croissants. In underwear he put them on offer. Tabled on his chest, their smell grew the room.

After, he brought out the mugs. Each mug had a face painted on it. He liked to think he had a mug for each of his faces, one for every way he looked. How hard it was to know what you looked like. The smell of the two of them and what they’d sweated out in the night they washed down with tea, which they drank hot from handmade, handled faces.

“My daughter has early onset,” Sofia was saying. “Was walking home from work and she just lost it, didn’t know where or who she was.”

Here was his crumb deposit, in the bowl of his neck skin. There was hers, smaller and smoother. Alzheimer’s wouldn’t be so bad, he thought. You could maybe forget whatever was wrong with everybody. That might be nice.

“I really. What I want to say is I really like you,” she said. “I want you to meet my daughter.”

“She won’t remember anyway, will she?” he said, jokey.


Sofia’s trailer cost a grand every ten days to park. In her bedroom were a number of contact containers, as if sets of blind eyes waited everywhere for contacts to be applied.

Her wardrobe was bare, with clustered proclivities. Things she hung from her ears and neck. She gave him a molar yawn.

In the morning they went to the place down the corner with the pouncy waitresses. They’d let you drink a finger of water before taking your glass from you and topping it off. J had a mimosa the size of a shampoo bottle. Sofia ordered an eggless omelet and black breakfast tea. He put a hand to her wet hair and wiped the wetness on his pants.


Sofia’s brothers arrived from Idaho. J and Sofia and her brothers caught fish for the wedding banquet themselves. They chain-smoked menthols and drank drowned bugs in coffee until they threw up slick, minty stripes down the side of the boat. J took them to secret spots to drop lines down a few hundred feet. J handed out tiny plastic water bottles that crunched when you drank from them.

They caught muttonfish and grouper. They saw a few dolphins, creepy animals J heard could stay awake for days at a time. They drank gin and ate store-bought pie and zero calorie ice cream for Sofia that dripped down her thighs. He untangled her line. They decided important exes were welcome to come to their wedding. They sailed long hours, long days, until they had enough fish for the ceremony. The brothers kissed the fish they caught before braining them starboard. J did pushups and mostly successful handstands.

At J and Sofia’s wedding, guests threw the leftover fish scraps into the water. They all waited for that tight sweet stretch of time before the swarm.

Maria Anderson is from Montana. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, and The Atlas Review. She's an editor at Essay Press.