S H O R T S T O R Y
GINA IS IN TROUBLE
b y g i r i j a t r o p p ~ m e l b o u r n e , a u s t r a l i a
THE RED hot argument with her husband spits her out of home and hearth at one o'clock in the morning. Since he's hidden the keys to the car, Gina walks five kilometers into the city. A cop car stops and asks if she needs help and she says no.
At the retreat in Bali where middle-aged women in pastel dresses make nervous conversation with long men in rimless eyewear, she is asked for a vow of silence. This suits her fine. She drags a lime green laminex table all the way to the beach and sits there with a carrot juice. Hawkers find her and she passes money over in silence. They leave her with their treasure.
On the last day, bleached to the color of sand, blinded by a fluorescent sunrise, she is set upon by thieves who tear off her wedding ring and beat her about the head with her blue vinyl handbag. They are interrupted by the voice of God saying, "She's mine."
The thieves, out-of-work fishermen, stop and request she come with them. They give her a camera as a present from God.
Perhaps the camera is a metaphor for seeing? She tries to use her eyes like a camera.
The thieves leave her sitting on rocks. The white light is difficult. God turns out to be a medium-sized fellow. "Are you Irish?" she asks.
God offers her a cigarette and lights one for himself. He wears a waiter's coat with shiny brass buttons.
"Should you be smoking?"
"Probably not." He takes the cigarette and looks at it briefly before putting it back to his lips. "Now," says God. "Tell me your problems."
"Well," she says. "I'm having trouble with orgasms."
"Something can be arranged."
"And there's the bad breath."
"Send him to a good dentist."
"He won't go."
"Leave it up to me, I've got tricks."
"I haven't been feeling well."
"Would you like to come and live with me, then? Most girls report an increase in wellness."
"I'm not sure that's the right thing to do."
God sighs. "It's up to you to know these things."
Gina has a dip in the ocean. The last dibs of sun turn the retreating tide into lilac bubbles.
They watch the sunset with a bottle of cheap white and a champagne glass. She writes in her diary, Gina is in trouble, and underlines trouble.
God says, "May I?" He turns the diary around and checks out what she's written. He crosses out a grocery list and writes Have fun.
"I know about men like you," Gina says.
Tourists walk towards them. A mother puts her toddler down. The toddler pulls out a plastic gun and shoots God. Freak waves fall onto the beach and pull the toddler's legs out from under him. The green table capsizes. God gives Gina a hug and says he'll call again soon.
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