vodka sodas. BRB had never been raped in the traditional sense. She
had never been in a position where she couldn’t push a man off her. She
and her husband surmised they wouldn’t have to worry about collegiate
rapes for their daughter, that for all its darkness, at least the future had
that going for it. The man looked like every bad man ever. Hauntingly,
she imagined his face pixilated on the front page of the local newspaper.
She turned back to the road but found it impossible to keep her eyes
ahead. She found that she also could not make eye contact with her child
without dissolving into a panic.
She kept her hands on the wheel, ten and two, like her father had
taught her. She looked at the white line of the shoulder. She realized
the radio was on and tuned to the local classic rock station. “Someone
Great” played sotto voce. The child wanted music from the motion picture Moana at all times, but BRB did not want her to grow up like she
had, not knowing shit about music. BRB could not look at anything or
keep her mind on anything, and she figured she needed to calm down,
to morph into a she-wolf. She needed to calm down, get bent, and so her
mind went, for some reason, to Singapore.
She could not remember, the morning after her first day on Sentosa Island, whether or not the boy had fingered her in the cab. If he had, it was
because she’d guided his arm under her dress and helped two or three of
his fingers under the scalloped edge of her panties.
She remembered, very well, how it felt to dance with him in the club
on the quay. He was Australian, with light blue eyes the color of toothpaste. It went from silly grinding to heady theatrics very quickly. He’d
swung her around by just her hands, had lifted her over one shoulder
and then the other, the hem of her skirt swishing down around her
head. After some time, the revelers had formed a circle around them,
watching. She had no background in dance, had in fact been told by her
mother that she had no rhythm, could not carry a tune. But there she
was, ecstatically performing.
She’d been in Singapore for work. Her father had just died. Her
mother had just been diagnosed with cancer. The work she did was not
important. She wrote advertorials for magazines, glossy inserts for hotels. This was one of the more far-flung assignments. Usually she did
tennis academies in Florida, geriatric homes in the Carolinas. Her boss
had taken pity, on account of her mother. He’d pressed his stony erec-