My brother brought his girlfriend home from college. She wore pants like him, and I’d never seen jeans like theirs before. She called them straight legs and 501s. I supposed only those from Colorado, from the mountains and snow, wore 501s.
She said to my dad, You’re something. She sat on the arm of the sofa next to my brother. Mom smiled politely. Dad blushed a hot pink. And I could not stop staring at her. She didn’t wear make-up or dress up like my brother’s past girlfriends.
I noticed how others stared at her, too. In restaurants. At the movies. At the mall, where she took me because my brother was too much of a dick to take me. My friends from school were at the food court. They made, what she called, googly eyes as she walked next to me, her elbow hooked over my neck. I could feel my face grow warm. I’m sure I looked like my dad.
She bought me my first pair of real jeans. My brother teased me because of the way I tried to walk around the house in them. Like taking strides in cardboard. She told my brother that I was going with them to the beach after dinner. That’s that, was how she put it.
She never saw the ocean before, but it was late at night and there wasn’t much to see. Except for the stupid foam creeping up the beach. So we listened to the sound of water on the move. We built sandcastles with Styrofoam cups. I built my high turret close to hers while my brother was busy fortifying the thick walls. Then she said to me, You’re something, as I tried walking in the stiff jeans across the sand. And she laughed. My brother said, I told you?
She told me I needed to break in the 501s. Get them really soaked while wearing them, so they’d fit better. She wanted me to run into the black sea with her, even though her jeans were soft. My brother–what a total dickhead–sat on the sand, told us we were deranged.
Since we were both so drenched, she sat in the back seat with me on the way home. I got my guts up and put my head on her lap, staring up at her pale chin. She sang that song from Snow White in a high voice. Soon I got my guts up again and whispered, You’re something. She smiled down at me. She combed my wet hair with her fingers and sang about her prince showing up.
DAN CRAWLEY — Dan is the author of Straight Down the Road (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019) and The Wind, It Swirls (Cowboy Jamboree Press, 2021). His writing appears or is forthcoming in Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, JMWW, Five South, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. Find him at https://twitter.com/danbillyc.
Art by ANA P. — Ana is a self-taught artist living in Switzerland. Her recent work appears in Up the Staircase Quarterly, Existere and Faultine Journal.