Rebecca Cox lives in Venice, California with her boyfriend and panoply of pets, producing a fair amount of copy about mid-century furniture, art, and interior design. A collection of her abbreviated super shorts on love and its misadventures can be found at her blog: http://minutelovestories.tumblr.com/.
Though she was terrified of fathomless watery depths engulfing her, though she could not manage to stay afloat in any ocean, pond, or swimming pool even with inflated cheeks holding stale oxygen, or perhaps because of such fears and impossibilities, Miriam purchased the most exquisite swimsuit she’d ever touched, discovered beneath a heap of wrinkled aprons at the antique mall, costing three dollars and one cent. It had shirring along the front like a fairy’s spinal column and wide straps befitting the perfect summer swing dress. It was summer then and Miriam carefully folded and packed the garment into her rattan purse, with its discolored linen interior sheltering the black nylon. Soon enough, autumn would be upon her, marking the advent of her seasonal purse exchange, and an emerald-green, oversize leather tote bag was thereby imminent.
Miriam traveled with the black bathing suit, providing it with a year-round tour of the region in which she’d grown up, where she’d skinned her knees as a child, fallen into unrequited love in her teens, and read Anna Karenina underneath the massive weeping willow tree in Forest Hill cemetery. The Russian hardcover was so heavy that her arms had ached with the weight of holding it aloft and her heart had trembled with ruinous aristocracy and lovelorn fate. In the later months of the summer, Miriam’s bathing suit was introduced to the town’s most popular county fair with its requisite, creaking Ferris wheel, bales of piled hay, and a shiny, glittering, nauseating ride called the “Sea Dragon”, where she draped the suit’s lank black body next to the jar of multi-colored glass marbles. At a Main Street Dairy Queen, it hung over the paper napkin dispenser, sticky with spilled ice cream and early September’s last gasp of heat. The suit was barely visible near Sargent’s “Madame Gautreau Drinking a Toast”, but the lack of contrast in such muted darkness and the risk of a museum guard’s remonstrations were both worth it.
For four consecutive seasons, the black suit served as a model, adorning landscapes and plastic machines, mossy rocks and Chippendale chairs. At the next summer’s end, Miriam gently lowered its weight into the water of her white porcelain sink, like a babe undergoing baptism. With a single hand, she swirled the suit within the water, creating a whirlpool and then letting it subside. The water drained, she wrung the bathing suit in her hands, pulling it taut like a bobbing boat’s mooring, a steadfast rope twisted and strong. She hung it in the yard, in waning sunlight, clipped onto a line with faded wooden pins. The next morning, when Miriam finally slipped the bathing suit on, still redolent of dampness, it perfectly matched her black hair, now set loose beyond her shoulders.