Frank met Linda on a warm summer day at the local pool. Well, met isn’t the correct word. He saw her. He saw her from behind the wheel of his 1976 Jeep Cherokee. Her hair was longer then, legs leaner, soft porcelain skin. She had a youthful glow. Linda stood atop of a lifeguard stand, pointing at a bratty boy with sandy hair and bright blue swim trunks. It was then he knew—he had found the one.
It took several weeks of talking to himself in the mirror before he could introduce himself. He would stand there, shoulders back, and run his hand through his thinning hair line. There was nothing particularly handsome, but there wasn’t anything particularly damaging. Frank knew that he was an average man, but average was good. Average meant that he could just blend in. Frank enjoyed being able to blend it
Linda was the opposite. She was the life of the party, and although she didn’t have a very pretty face, all of the boys would crowd around her. Linda was eighteen and fresh out of high school. She hadn’t noticed Frank at first. He was just another older man who would come and lay out in the sun and doze off. Then, one day when she was switching out with Franny, Frank approached her. It was strange at first, but she took a liking to him. His eyes were soft and kind, and his voice was never raised. He was safe.
The two went to drive-in movies, shared milkshakes, swam in the shallow waters off the Florida Keys. They talked about the birds and the way the clouds moved across the sky. They talked about sea shells and the salt that collected on the back of leaves on white mangroves. They talked about how she felt stifled by her family and how she was never going to turn out like her mom.
Lately, Linda has been looking rather dull. Her hair has been shaved off, and her skin looks sickly. Scabs encrust her wrists and ankles. They fall off prematurely, and blood drips down onto the floor. Has it been several weeks, or months, or years? She’s not sure anymore. Her body aches, and she’s not sure if the last period she missed was because of the physical stress or if she’s pregnant again. She prays that she’s not—she doesn’t even know what happened to her last.
Frank is happy. He has a wife and a child, and there’s nothing more in the world he can ask for. Work has been steady, and although Linda gets on his case now and then, nothing can come between the love they have for one another. Afterall, he always knew she was the one.