Stories by Emily Hoover
  1  Surge
3  Angelo Loves Tammy
4  El Brutál
5  Real Fun
  6  Tectonics of Time
  7  Some Kind of Saint
  8  Snitch
  9  Demolition
Reflections at Aqua Key West
  About the Author  |  |  Summer 2021 Fiction Issue

Reflections at Aqua Key West

You enter the room—damp, lit up like an interrogation, loud with half-dressed performers, scented with vanilla perfume. You blew out your rhinestone flip flop on Duval Street by Sloppy Joe’s on your way here, so now you’re late, pissed off, sweating, and practically barefoot.

Destiny tells you, “You’re up in 15,” and you smile at her lined lips. You throw your purse onto the table and sit in front of the vanity mirror, noticing two bulbs are out. You sigh and rummage through your makeup bag. You decided, before you walked over, you wanted a pink and white theme for tonight’s performance—a youthful, but not-so-innocent hot-pink lip color with the matching eye shadow from MAC—only now you can’t find the damned eye shadow and you really just don’t have time for this bullshit. You wonder if one of the others has taken it, but you don’t mention anything, and you’re suddenly introverted, paranoid, like a junkie. You settle on Pensive Plum because you like how it sits against your skin tone, and you apply Fuchsia Flash to your winged, smoky eyes. The foundation helps with the sweating; you know later, when you’re dancing with drunk tourists, you’ll be sweating again, but it’ll be fabulous so you won’t care.

The dress is white, cool against your tan skin. The shoes: also pink, like your toenails. The room has emptied some. You extend a leg and slide the pantyhose over your calves and thighs, over your crotch, all the way up to your bellybutton.

In front of the full-length mirror, you sway to the music—a private sashay, atypical of your stage persona, Di. You’re pouting, admiring your high cheekbones, accentuated with rouge, and the way the Florida sun has kissed your face after an afternoon by the pool. You close your eyes, imagining the stage: the beautiful college boys in the audience, their girlfriends’ daiquiris spilled on tables, their credit cards left in the bathroom, Franki slinging drinks at the bar. And it is during these moments you’re free to forget.

The dressing room door slams and you’re alone. You slip into the platforms, your calloused, hairless toes scrunched together in pantyhose. You know underneath the cocoa butter and glitter, beneath the padded bra and high-waisted panties, you’re still little Daniel from Eaton Park. You’re as ashamed of him as he would be of you if he had the agency to exist completely. As you brush your fingers across your chest and shoulders, you remember your brother, Phillip, beating you with an aluminum baseball bat when he found you in your mom’s leopard negligee and heels. You were ten and he twelve. The welts on your body form in your mind the way raindrops do on asphalt. You sway. Tears sting the corners of your eyes and you blink them away.

The door opens. “Princess,” Destiny says softly, “we’re ready for you.”

You couldn’t tell Phillip, but all you ever wanted was to command the stage as Diana.


  © Emily Hoover, 2021


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