By Roxane Gay
We’re not going to own the yacht—it belongs to a Russian billionaire or a Chinese inventor or an Internet entrepreneur who loves to share his generosity with people in no way in need of generosity. Me, my hot Hollywood movie star husband and my hot Hollywood girlfriend are going to spend fifteen days sailing to nowhere. When we want to go on land, a helicopter will come to the yacht and ferry us away for a few hours. There’s going to be a large staff on this massive yacht and they will call us sir and ma’am even when we tell them to call us by our first names. They never will because they know we don’t really mean it. They will watch us even when we think they’re not and they will hate us for the vulgar ways with which we love each other.
Our days are going to be decadent. We’ll eat a large breakfast in the late morning, sitting on one of the many yacht’s decks. We will drink orange juice and eat croissants and exotic cheeses and fruits whose names we can barely pronounce while a handsome waiter sweats in his khaki slacks and polo shirt and refreshes our water glasses and makes sure the ice cubes are always whole. My hot Hollywood girlfriend will sit so close to me she’s practically sitting in my lap and she’ll feed me little bites from her plate, so our mouths might experience the same joys. My husband, he likes to sleep in, so he’ll stay in our stateroom, sprawled across the bed. When he wakes up, he will be hung over because he drinks too much even though we pretend he doesn’t. He will spend most of the day in a bathrobe over his skintight bathing suit, his chest waxed bare. He always wears sunglasses and sometimes, in the light of day, I forget what his face looks like.
The three of us will lounge on the slick wooden deck. I will be in the middle. We will lie in the sun and our skin will bronze, the yacht is so big we won’t hardly remember we’re on water. We will talk about how much we miss our old noses. Sometimes, a handsome waiter in khaki slacks and a polo shirt will bring us expensive bottled water from Norway or cocktails in chilled glasses. We will flip through magazines and we’ll pretend to not read the articles about ourselves. My hot Hollywood girlfriend will rest her hand on my thigh. My husband will leer at us. Once in a while, we’ll see a cigarette boat bobbing in the water far away from us. We won’t but we will hear the click of the cameras and in a few hours, we’ll be able to go online to see how good we look.
Sometimes, we’ll stop at a foreign port where we speak the language because it’s important to know the mother tongues of the cities where important film festivals are held. We’ll say, “Ciao,” and kiss the air three times with everyone we meet. We’ll buy things we’ll use once or never and we’ll sign autographs and we’ll add more stamps to our swollen passports. We will wish we felt something for anything but each other.
At night, my hot Hollywood girlfriend will say things like, “If you two want to eat alone, I can eat by myself,” and my husband and I will say “Don’t be silly. We don’t want to be alone.”
Roxane Gay’s writing appears or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Mid-American Review, Cream City Review, Annalemma, McSweeney’s (online), and others. She is the co-editor of PANK, an assistant professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, and can be found at http://www.roxanegay.com. Her first collection, Ayiti, will be released in 2011.
“…makes sure the ice cubes are always whole.” As a writer of flash, do you sense yourself struggling to capture a bit of wholeness? Tiny shards of wholeness? Can flash, which is so deeply invested in making meaning comprehensible, whole in an instant, have space for anything less? Is flash fiction deeply invested in making meaning comprehensible? I don’t believe that. Despite the constrained (or compressed, if you will) nature of flash, I believe there is room for both wholeness or fracture but I don’t feel like it’s a struggle to achieve either. It depends on what the writer is trying to accomplish. Sometimes, when I am writing very short fiction, I am invested in telling a complete story, in offering the reader that sense of satisfying wholeness or to giving the characters some sense of wholeness. Then there are times when I want to tell only a fracture of a story, or to focus on one moment even though it is connected to other moments that might be important to the reader. I like to think about what I give the reader and what I can deny the reader, and even more, what I can deny myself as a writer. There is something to be said for deprivation.