A simple premise; a bold promise To present one story per day,
every day—providing exceptional authors with exposure
and avid readers with first-rate fiction.

Today's Story by Maria D'Alessandro

“Just watching. Haven't you ever gone to the bathroom with another girl?”

Pool Party

Lacey called her dad Anthony. His friends called him Tony. I didn’t know what to call him so I stuck with Mr. Guisino. Mr. Guisino had orange skin covered with long black hairs. He sat with friends under an umbrella at one end of the pool and we dangled our feet in the water at the other end. We applied sunscreen which we still referred to as ‘sun-tan lotion’. The air was saturated with the scent of coconut and aftershave.

Three girls had been invited to the pool party in Lacey’s dad’s backyard – two popular girls who Lacey wanted to impress and me. The other two girls kept turning around to look at the fence, to see who else was coming, but I knew it was only going to be the four of us.

Lacey lived with her grandparents, whose townhouse I had visited a few times before. Lacey’s mom was allowed to visit, but she didn’t have ‘custody’. I didn’t remember Lacey ever mentioning her dad before she told me about the party. She had explained that she could only convince “Anthony” to let her invite three friends. I had been looking forward to the party. I felt special to be one of the girls chosen out of our entire class. I started to feel differently shortly after my mom dropped me off.

Everything glowed white, the vinyl siding, the tool shed, and the concrete patio leading to the pool. Only the inside of the pool was painted aqua. There was a patch of unnaturally green grass on the other side of the fence and a whimpering black dog tethered to it. I found out later that the dog belonged to Lacey and had actually been a present from her dad. I couldn’t understand why no one bothered to scratch the dog behind his ears or let him run around the backyard. However, the atmosphere of Lacey’s dad’s back yard was not one that welcomed input from strangers. Plus, the men were laughing too loudly to be able to hear anything else.

“After 3:00 no one can use SPF 15 anymore,” Lacey announced, oiling her hairless legs before letting them drop back into the water.

Our bodies were thin, but imperfect. The girl with long blond hair and narrow legs had freckles in odd places. The other girl had a pointy face with a long nose and an ‘outie’ belly button which showed because she wore a two piece. I still had baby fat especially in my face and legs, which were so thick they made me look more like a wrestler than an eight year old girl. My hair was wild in a bad way and so was my mouth. Lacey, with her soft caramelized skin and curious eyes, was the best looking of us all. I had met her mother once, she had spiked black hair and lines around her mouth. She wore a lot of make-up to try to be as pretty as her daughter, but she didn’t stand a chance.

Bill the fireman came racing down the great blue slide and landed with a splash and a hoot.

“You girls should swim. I didn’t pay $800 for a slide just to see Bill make an ass of himself,” Mr. Guisino said.

The other girls shook their heads and continued to massage sunscreen into their mauve colored knees and I watched as Bill swam the perimeter of the pool. He was graceful, like a beaver.

“Girls, come get some watermelon,” Mr. Guisino said.

I was just beginning to wonder if there would be anything good to eat. Usually when one of us had a party her mom would have a whole table set up with potato chips and onion dip, pizza bagels and sometimes pigs in a blanket with mustard for dipping. Mr. Guisano had only prepared watermelon and lime wedges on a plate.

The other two girls chose one slice each, but I took two, bit off the top half of one and let it melt on my tongue. The seeds stayed in my mouth after I had swallowed the grainy juice. Mr. Guisino was watching me so I swallowed the seeds too and wiped my hands on the bottom of my bathing suit. Pink juice dripped down onto my thigh. Mr. Guisino smiled.

“Lacey, there’s beer in the fridge downstairs. Go down and get some, will you?”

“Come on,” Lacey said, tugging on my arm.

I had so many questions for Lacey, but I couldn’t think of how to ask them in a way that wouldn’t upset her. I wanted to ask her why she never mentioned her dad before. Did she think her mom would be mad that she was having a party at his house?

I followed the orange bottom of her bathing suit down the stairs and tried not to notice the way she shook her hips. It was so much cooler inside that I started to shiver. Lacey bounded over to a miniature refrigerator and brought out four cold bottles.

“Give me a hand with these, will you?” she said. I wondered when Lacey had gotten to be so grown up. Maybe she had only been pretending all this time to be interested in My Little Pony and collecting trolls, and only now was her true personality being revealed. Or maybe I was the one who was acting strangely. Maybe there was a natural progression for all girls towards adulthood, swaying hips and carrying beers, that I had not yet begun.

As I reached for the bottles a chill that started at my neck and ended at the base of my spine made me realize I had to pee.

“Wait a sec, Lacey, I have to go to the bathroom,” I said.

I rushed into a cream and tan tiled room with a circular tub. There was a cover over the toilet seat and I thought, where is the lady who decorated this bathroom, and won’t she be mad if I can’t make it all the way to the toilet before I pee on the floor? I was just about to close the door when Lacey squeezed through.

“What are you doing?” I asked, lifting the cushioned lid.

“Just watching. Haven’t you ever gone to the bathroom with another girl?”

I shook my head, no.

“Close the door,” I said, and pulled down my bathing suit. She did as I said and sat on the edge of the jacuzzi watching me.

The seat was cold and I tried to pee straight into the bowl so that I wouldn’t leave a tell tale drop on the toilet seat. I was especially nervous about wiping myself in front of another girl, what if we didn’t do it the same way?

Then Lacey did something strange. She was at my side pulling a piece of toilet paper from the roll. Before I could rip off some for myself she bent down in front of me, and with the toilet paper between her fingers, wiped between my legs. The motion was so swift I thought I was imagining it. She smiled at me and her dimples showed. I didn’t know if what had just happened meant we were best friends or that we could never be friends again, and I wasn’t sure which I wanted more.

“Let’s go,” she said, “the guys are waiting.”

When we returned Lacey delivered two beers to her dad’s friends, one to a pot bellied red head and one to Bill. I was holding two beers out in front of her dad.

“Here you go, Mr. Guisino,” I said, trying not to meet his eyes.

“Call me Anthony,” he said, taking the sweating bottles from my hands. I felt him watching as I walked away.

The freckled girl wanted to know where I’d been. I told her, the basement, and left it at that.

Lacey stayed back, giggling with the men. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

“Your face is red. I think you got a burn,” the other girl said.

I took my place at the bottom of the blue slide, a little ways off from the imperfect popular girls, but far from Lacey and her dad. I could hear the black dog whimpering, but I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it. Anyway, I was afraid of dogs. I watched my legs dangle into the water and noticed the light colored hair growing sporadically over them. Covered in goosebumps. Before I knew what was happening I felt a surge up from my stomach and burning out from my mouth and nose, red ripe watermelon juice expanding over the surface of the water, black coated seeds swirling as if from the flush of a toilet bowl.


Maria D’Alessandro lives in Somerville, MA. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in various literary magazines and anthologies. She is currently working on her first novel.


To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page