Sea Urchins, Candles, and Weed (first two pages of Chapter Four)

As you all know, I’ve been working nonstop on my book. I’ve decided to share with you the first two pages of each chapter, hopefully to suck you in and make you want to buy the book when it’s complete.

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Mom lived in a small, touristy beach town called Ocean City, about half an hour from my dad’s house in Mays Landing. The entire town is seven miles long and about one mile wide. Actually, the entire island is 7×1, as it’s completely surrounded by water. And I adored it with all of the passion in my soul, which is ironic because I loathe the beach just as much. The sand and the sun and the water.

I have this immense fear of getting wet. It’s not so much the being wet that bothers me, but initially getting wet terrifies the crap out of me and feels like a thousand tiny sea urchins crawling all over my skin. I can barely bring myself to shower, let alone jump in a big vastness of liquid death.

It goes a little something like this:


My brain is like a child in the middle of a temper tantrum. I can feel it flailing its metaphorical arms and stomping its feet. My hair is greasy and my skin is breaking out but the thought of that poison on my skin stops me.

I’m reminded of a child feeling a calloused hand connecting with her face. Of yelling to get in and then yelling to get out. Of bathing suits and flabby stomachs and pubic hair in all the wrong places.

The water is heavy. Heavy like a cinderblock. And hot. Heavy and hot like a cinderblock of radiation penetrating my shield.

When I turn it down it’s constricting and cold. Like my lungs are ice skating themselves into a knot.

There is no happy medium. If I do manage to find it for a split second, the water still pricks me. It doesn’t glide down my body like it’s supposed to — it attaches and attacks my pores as if it were a thousand tiny sea urchins instead of the sustenance that surrounds them.

I wash my face and this invader climbs up my nostrils, obviously chopping away at my septum. I wash my hair and it decides to simply float over the shampoo and conditioner — the one time it doesn’t permeate is when it’s supposed to.

My hair mocks me. The sounds of ripping and tearing are really its way of laughing at my struggle to cease its orgy amongst itself. When I finally break it free, it comes tumbling down and grasps at my skin like a child reaching for its mother. It holds tight. The sea urchins barely make a dent in the hairy, orgy-conceived children clinging to my skin.

I think I’m done and then remember something important I didn’t do. Sometimes I don’t even bother.

The drips pierce my eardrums as they hit the floor. Drip, drip, drip; bam, bam, bam. I try to smooth the sea urchins off my skin but my arms flake and the tiny critters remain.

I want a cigarette.

I swirl my hair and smooth some more but it never ends. I give up and go outside, my body half showing and still dripping; bamming.

It feels like there are new invaders in my nose now. I keep trying to get them out but they must be invisible. My hair is damp and frizzy and my skin feels raw and itchy.

I think about going back inside but my flailing brain reminds me that I have to paste fabric over the sea urchins and onto the flakes and it just seems like too much so I remain seated on the concrete.

By the time I’m finally finished with everything, it’s been hours. Hours of my life I’ll never get back. I realize I only have one week until I start the whole process over. How can people do this every day?

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4 thoughts on “Sea Urchins, Candles, and Weed (first two pages of Chapter Four)

  1. I know I’ve written it before, but I’m super-proud of you for focusing so well on this project. You definitely convey the experience of taking a shower as terrifying using such freaky images i.e. sea urchins….the whole thing is waaaaay different than the norm & way more memorable! I wish dry shampoo was the answer but as you note above, your hair stays clean enough in between showers. Thank God.

    Silly question, but is May’s Landing in Cape May? (I’m too lazy to Google properly but it looks like it is) I went somewhere in Cape May over 20 years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Sadly I’ve kind of fizzled out at around 38,000 words, but I’ll get there eventually.

      Mays Landing is in Atlantic County, which is next to Cape May County. So it’s close. Ocean City is in Cape May County, which is where my mom lives. Cape May itself is at the very bottom of New Jersey, about 45 minutes from Ocean City.

      Liked by 1 person

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