“Enormous Women”

On Friday evenings, enormous women in polka dot dresses alight on the Bainbridge Ferry sundeck, heading to Seattle. Young boys push off their mothers’ laps and run to them. Businessmen dribble red slushies onto their crotches as they notice them. Men in dirty jeans talk up their contract jobs as they follow them. The enormous women walk on their toes in shiny, pink shoes like Minnie Mouse.


The enormous women wear their dyed, blonde hair swept up like vanilla soft-serve. They wear cat-eye sunglasses with pink frames. They wear pink lipstick in thick swipes around their lips. As they stroll around the sundeck, all the other women crack in half, right down the middle, and fall to the ground.


The enormous women get tired of walking on the sundeck. They fan their raised chins with offerings from the males: credit cards, Tonka trucks, condoms.  The women gather at the benches to sit. They each choose a bench, knowing. They wait.


The males run to get spots next to them. If necessary, the males push each other off. If necessary, heads hit metal and bleed. If necessary, fathers kick sons. Wait ‘till you’re older, they say.


Tsk, tsk, the enormous women say. Get a hold of yourselves, they say, like this, and they clutch their breasts, which span six feet from nipple to nipple. The boys sit up straight and lace their fingers. The old men rub themselves dry. The young men pull bouquets from their asses and lay them at the women’s feet.


The two-minute warning-whistle sounds. Seattle is close by.


It is time, the enormous women say, dropping their shoulders and exhaling. They rise from the benches and begin the walk to the door that leads two levels down to the car deck. The males slither and crawl and follow. One woman turns and hisses, a tear welling in her eye. The males withdraw.


On the way down, the women sob. They unravel their hair. They wipe off their lipstick with their wrists. Finally, they remove their shiny, pink shoes, which disappear in their hands.  It is done, they say.


Walking through the car-deck door, the women go their separate ways. They are boney women now, with neat, gray haircuts. They wear pants that sag. They wear old, North Face jackets shaped like rectangles. They have lines on their cheeks that draw their mouths down.


At their cars, they open the passenger doors and get in. Husbands sit in the drivers’ seats, reading newspapers and devices. The women glance at the profiles of the men.  The men do not glance in return. The women close the doors, which makes a soft sound, a nothing sound, a sound that cracks their skulls, a sound they will hear forever.

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About Thea Swanson

Thea Swanson holds an MFA in fiction from Pacific University in Oregon.  Her independently published novel, The Curious Solitude of Anise, received excellent reviews from Kirkus, Switchback, Amazon and Goodreads.  Thea’s stories can be found in Anemone Sidecar, Camera Obscura, Crab Creek Review, Danse Macabre, Dark Matter Journal, Image, New Plains Review, Our Stories,The Sonder Review and forthcoming in Black Denim Lit. Thea has taught all levels of English, from middle-school through college, but she can't afford to teach anymore, so she does other things.