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No Matter How Pretty They Look

It was our first once-a-month grandmother-granddaughter date at the JCC. I hopped on the treadmill while you did Jazzercise, all ladies over the age of 60 – or maybe 70, but at the time, I couldn’t tell the difference – and one man, Norman. Ink blots on his bare head, pants up to his ears. The ladies laughed in the locker room about his little grunt each time he leaned on his

right foot. They said it sounded like their husbands trying to come. You sat there with them, all of you naked from the waist-up, folds of silly putty skin rolling over a couple of ragged surgery scars, some galaxy-size stretch marks, and one larger-than-tarantula wine-colored mole above a pale, lumpy buttock. You talked like old friends – though you said you barely knew any of them –breasts resting on their stomachs, thighs, towels wrapped around their waists, giggling about Norman as though at an afternoon klatsch, fully dressed neck to ankle.

I watched this with my robe tied shut, in wet shower shoes, shielding myself with the locker door, mortified by all that skin and laughing and wetness and unadulterated fat. At the time, I was worried about the guy I was dating, his obsession with an ex, whether he fucked me for fun or to forget her. When you mentioned my “mysterious man” to the ladies, they turned their fleshy bodies at me and poked for details. I showed them Trey’s Match.com photo, and

their crooked fingers reached for more detail. They cooed over it, but you, you never minced words. You said, “No matter how pretty they look now, they all turn into Norman one day.”

I stepped behind the shower curtain and let the robe slide off, water rolling off my belly. Trey’s ex – or so he said – had a flat tummy and round butt, but mine was curvy, channeling suds from the crease between my breasts to my belly button until the soap disappeared. I got out of

the shower with nothing but a towel on my head. Until then, I had never been naked in front of anyone but boyfriends or the doctor – no, not even in front of Mom, not since I grew breasts–but you and your friends didn’t blink because I was just one of the ladies.

Norman winked at us on our way out the door. I left a voicemail for Trey in the parking lot, not sure I wanted him to call back, before we picked up pastries and ate them in the car, buttery flakes crumbling all over our laps. 

Kristina T. Saccone (she/her) edits a limited-run online literary journal with stories about caring for our aging parents and those who raised us, called One Wild Ride, and she’s querying an anthology on the same topic. She is also a short fiction and nonfiction writer with stories in Fractured Lit, Cease, Cows, Gone Lawn, Flash Flood, Luna Station Quarterly, LEON Literary Review, Emerge Literary Journal, and others. Find her on Twitter at @kristinasaccone and @one_wild_ride.

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