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That summer in the French Riviera

That summer in the French Riviera

Katherine Jimenez


Goofy, my darling, do you remember how we used to dance to

Jazz?

There was a piano below pale fingers somewhere in the room,

the sweet richness sounding slow and distant in the corners of my mind I

hadn’t fully discovered yet.

Scott looked at me with distaste and said, Tell them about Jozan,

dear. Come on. Ernest doesn’t like to be kept waiting.

Heat crept onto my face and neck. I felt the tears about to sting

my eyes, my eyes, my eyes

but I would not allow them to fall this time. I could not allow

him to make me the butt of his joke, the laugh, the joy, the little Southern

flapper girl that Hemingway hated so much. But after he says it, they

won’t stop laughing, because if they do then they’ll see the light in

Scott’s eyes isn’t all green. That new money isn’t quite the same as old.

That it doesn’t have the same Midas touch. Not the same texture as my

father’s hundred dollar bills. Not the same as daddy’s little girl.

The green light is always there. Always his, never mine, for it is

Scott’s and Scott's dream alone. It doesn’t care whether this is that or that

is this.

No. He doesn’t care.

He’s a dream painted on two-way glass where his alcohol makes

poetry and our parties make celebrities. And he drinks away my time

since time is all he needs. Time away from me but not them, not his little

buddies, not Hemingway again.

He just needs time to write.

But when I ask for time to dance, to talk, to hold a pen just as

beautifully as he does, his green flame singes through the letters, the

diary entries, the words I didn’t speak to the air but to the paper in a

youth he and I no longer shared.

A nice feeling that must have been, to take what was mine and

call it his. Get all that publicity, those movie remakes, and books taught

in a high school classroom. A very nice feeling when all he needed was a

different sex between his legs.

No, I want to say, I don’t feel like telling that story today.

but in time, when the alcohol too had worn my brightness away,

I felt myself getting smaller and smaller under the weight of his mocking

stare until finally I disappeared into another character in his grand life,

for a man’s success is a man’s alone.

Always Scott’s, never mine, because my words still keep him

alive.

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