“So where is your boyfriend now?” Brigitte asked me.
“I’m sure he’s studying. Or reading. He’s very literary.”
“I see. But he won’t be coming?”
The water felt chilly. “I don’t know.”
Brigitte threw her cigarette into the water. It sizzled. She grabbed me by the back of the head, her perfect fingernails pierced my scalp and I felt them burn me. Steam rose from the part in my hair.
“Please stay with me here.” Brigitte’s lips were blue, like the petal of a morning glory, her tongue was white like its pollen. “I am all alone here.” She pressed her mouth close to mine. A bee flew out from between her lips.
“Brigitte…,” I opened my mouth in protest.
Brigitte Bardot kissed me. I heard fireflies zooming by my ears. They were lifting up the strands of her hair, dozens of them, so that she appeared to glow. Her mouth tasted like evergreens. Like tart pine, the smell of winter, when it first freezes over, and suddenly it’s Paris but it’s Moscow, it’s Maine but it’s the Arctic, when the winter makes everything one, all white and painful, and that’s what she kissed like. Like snow all over and icicles hanging from your earlobes and the tip of your nose, like the forests of the North after the first snowfall, when there’s not a way out. We were in one sheet of ice, and our mouths were freezing. Our legs were treading together, her legs’ skin against me felt like two eels, I was nervous they’d drag me down. She pulled away.
“Stay with me,” Brigitte said. “You are so… plain.” She put the back of her hand to my cheek and pressed her perfect knuckles into me so that it hurt.
I imagined myself as her. I was fighting with a man in a big hat behind a camera. He told me my character wanted divinity, that she wanted admiration. I said, “What she wants is love!” I stormed off. I ran in to my trailor, covered in photos of old schoolmates, and wiped the beige makeup from my face. I threw the tissues in the trash and watched myself cry in the mirror. The man in the big hat knocked on my door to apologize. I pouted and wiggled and he pressed close to me. His rectangle shape fit neatly inside my concave pelvis. I wore white panties, able to blow off my skin like scarves. I could dance for him so he’d never stop looking. I could turn him into an icicle.
Brigitte nuzzled me. “I have something to show you, little Brigit,” she said next, pulling away from me. I lurched my chin out to ask for more, to ask her back. With the knowing, wily smile of a lover she motioned for me to follow. With shivering teeth I obeyed. Brigitte swam off with a dolphin’s exuberance. I paddled behind with splashing palms, huffing.
“This way!” she called. We swam further and further from the shore, from Brigitte’s film set with its posters of her highlighted face over big red letters reading Woman Scorned
, from men holding cameras as if they were glass guns, from the strip of mud our clothes waited faithfully upon, from the land on which I’d lived. “Faster or we’ll miss them,” she commanded, up ahead of me.
“Miss who?” I asked. I was nearly sinking, like soggy dough.
“My dogs! They are hungry when the sun sets.”
“The dogs?” I saw no sun setting. Past my panting head whizzed two shrieking fireflies.
“My rabid dogs, our friends here,” she yelled back. “They are across. Come.” She dove underneath and took a moment to arise, humming soprano notes.
“I was bit by a dog in fifth grade,” I said to the water. “I had to get shots.” I did not care for dogs, I wanted more Brigitte.
Brigitte went on, mouth spewing water droplets. “I go to them. I feed them croissants and baguettes. I fill their dog bowls with red wine. I lick where they foam. A day’s cure for loneliness.” She swam on.