There is one television commercial that plays repeatedly on every local channel. It has been playing for as long as I can remember; it features the first song I ever memorized. In the commercial, a group of white women in lime green bikinis walk barefoot and elegant across the smooth deck of a yacht. Their steps have bounce to them, their thongs are amazing. The women flip their hair at the sun, and beads of seawater drip onto their shoulders, down the pressed crease between their breasts. The droplets roll and glitter over their bodies like mercury from a smashed thermometer. A man sings: Naturally you’re lookin’ good, you look just like you dreamed you would! You’re having fun, you’re at your best, and all it took was Just One Look! Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery: just one look is worth a thousand words!” His girls look so pleased to be beautiful, his.
Years from now, after I leave this town, I will tuck in alone at night, listen to the garbage trucks lift and crash their arms through the New York freeze. My father used to say Sleep, child, need that beauty sleep. No child of mine could be so afraid of sleep. He called me pretty then. Now he is dust—some teeth—a copper urn on my bookshelf, polished.
I sip lukewarm water from a clay mug on my nightstand, fail to calm my shaking hands. Bewitching hour. I begin to drift off when I hear him again, that little man on his boat, always there, still singing.