You eat lunch by the pool. A cute guy with a tribal tattoo on his left shoulder smiles at you.
“Your swimsuit is inappropriate,” your mother says.
You roll your eyes. “I always wear bikinis.”
“Well, you didn’t always have a body like this. You’re not a little girl anymore.”
She nags you until you finally agree to put on a t-shirt.
“Here, taste this,” she says, offering you some sushi.
“Try one bite. For me.”
You push the plate away.
“Stop acting like a spoiled brat,” she says.
Your father stomps out into the water. “Don’t go any further from shore,” he says. “I’m worried about the undertow.”
“Don’t go any further from shore,” your brother mimics.
“I’m not asking,” your father says.
“I’m not asking,” your brother says.
Your father sighs. Then he returns to the beach.
“This vacation blows,” your brother says.
You are sitting alone by the pool, reading a magazine, when a man in a speedo asks if he can buy you a drink. He’s old and gross and seems drunk.
“A Piña Colada,” you say, covering your mouth so that he won’t see your braces.
He returns a few minutes later with two drinks. You quickly chug your Piña Colada.
“Impressive,” he says. “You look like a California girl. Am I right?”
“I knew it. UCLA? USC?”
“Beach Hills Middle School.” His face crumples. “It’s near Ventura,” you add, flashing him a big smile.
He glares at you for a few seconds. Then he puts his drink down and walks away.
Your entire family poses for a photo underneath a palm tree.
The cute guy with the tribal tattoo does handstands in the pool. You stroll toward the pool, watching him out of the corner of your eye, but he doesn’t seem to notice you, so you stretch your arms behind your head and push your chest out. Your brother jumps up, runs over, and shoves you into the water. When you rise to the surface you grab a towel and slink away, afraid to look at tribal tattoo guy.
You can hear your parents through the wall that separates your rooms.
“Just stop it,” your father is saying. “You wanted to go to Hawaii, so we went to Hawaii. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
“You poor thing. I’m so sorry I dragged you to paradise.”
“Yeah, this is really paradise. You’ve been so much fucking fun.”
You slam the door and walk to the pool.
A few months pass. Your parents prepare a Christmas card for their 200 closest friends. On the front is the photo that your family posed for underneath the palm tree in Hawaii. Inside, the card brags about various achievements and recounts your family’s travels over the past year. Your favorite sentence states, “In October we spent a magical week in Hawaii.” You read the card again. Then you pick up another card and read about another perfect family.