August 18, 2010. With Ryan Lerner, Sera Lerner, Beth Williams, and Pryor Williams.
Beth feeds one-year-old Pryor goldfish crackers, the sand by her feet polka-dotted in bright orange. Beneath the umbrella, Ryan does not notice his wife, Sera, taking the picture, even though a blurry flicker of her hand can be seen in the top corner, most likely beckoning for his attention. Ryan stares at Pryor. It is not a stare of jealousy that Beth and Oswald have a child and he and Sera still have not seen a plus sign on the test. It is a stare of jealousy that this small child gets so much attention from the woman Ryan has been in love with since the night she blamed the alcohol for a mistake they both wanted.
August 19, 2010.
Oysters repose on a bed of chipped ice.
August 16, 2010. With Oswald Williams, Beth Williams, Pryor Williams, and Ryan Lerner.
On the first day of the week-long vacation, Oswald and Beth arrive at the beach house a few hours after Ryan and Sera. The angle is skewed from on high. Quilted bag in hand and child under arm, Beth stands next to the hood of the car, staring up at the picture-taker on the balcony. Oswald embraces Ryan or Ryan embraces Oswald. Next to the car hood Beth does not notice them. Beneath a tilled brow she squints, perhaps because of the sunlight.
August 21, 2010.
Ice cubes bob in a bathtub full of water. Yesterday the air-conditioner broke down. Oswald claimed to have read about this trick for cooling off in a book.
August 18, 2010. With Ryan Lerner and Pryor Williams.
Near a window in the beach house’s living room, Ryan poses for the camera while holding Pryor. Pink gums overwhelm Ryan’s smile. Deep lines sprout from Ryan’s eyes. His wedding ring catches the setting sun. Pryor is in the concussive, demoniac throes of a giggle.
August 22, 2010. With Beth Williams.
Humidity frosts a glass of chardonnay. On the upstairs porch, curled into an Adirondack painted yellow, Beth holds the glass against her tan shoulder, pausing between sips so that she can dog- ear a paperback. The sky beyond her is going orange with twilight. Identity of person holding the camera unknown.
August 20, 2010.
Fried soft-shell crab drizzled with hollandaise. Parsley sprig. Lemon wedge. Arugula glistening with a coat of extra-virgin olive oil.
August 20, 2010. With Oswald Williams, Beth Williams, Sera Lerner, and Ryan Lerner.
On a pool deck the two couples sit on chaise lounges. The pool attendant forgot “Say cheese” when he took the picture. Oswald does not notice Ryan glancing at Beth, and Ryan does not notice Oswald glancing at Sera. ‘What I wouldn’t give to drink the sweat from the underside of her tit,’ Oswald is thinking, though he tries to affect that he is thinking, ‘Why can you no longer find bubble-gum-flavored bubble gum?’
August 17, 2010. With Sera Lerner, Oswald Williams, Beth Williams, Ryan Lerner, and Pryor Williams.
A high chair has been made modern art with spilt macaroni, sliced hot dogs, and ketchup. Sera cups a laugh next to Oswald. Ryan feigns a frown next to Beth. With a blank face, Pryor launches a handful of food at the babysitter, somewhere off-camera.
August 16, 2010.
Plate of shells from boiled shrimp next to a crumpled napkin. Empty beer glass draped with a cobweb of leftover foam.
August 22, 2010. With Oswald Williams and Pryor Williams.
Pryor stands on the shoreline, holding what appears to be a jellyfish but is actually a used tampon, leaking seawater. Ten yards down the beach Oswald sprints towards his son. Even though it is frozen by the camera, Oswald’s mouth is on the uptick of a grin, shaped around the last consonant of the words, “I told Beth to be careful where she threw away her private things!”
August 21, 2010. With Ryan Lerner.
Next to the central air-conditioning unit hulking beside the house, Ryan, smiling triumphantly, holds a wrench above his head as though it were an Olympic torch. Behind him an air- conditioning-repair van pulls out of the driveway.
August 18, 2010. With Oswald Williams and Sera Lerner.
Eyes raccooned by the confluence of sunburn and sunglasses, Oswald sits next to Sera, his outstretched arm holding the camera so that they are both in the frame. They are on the open-air deck of a bar. Both of their mouths are caulked with sugary blender drinks. Oswald’s hand that is not holding the camera disappears beneath the table, where it is slowly breaching the damp thighs of his best friend’s wife. Later that night he will learn that the windows really do fog up when you fuck in a car.
August 17, 2010. With Sera Lerner.
Water splashes on slats of teak. Beneath the showerhead attached to a post on the beach walkover stands Sera. Her eyes are closed, but her mouth is open. Sand melts away from her feet. One knee is hitched at a slight angle, as though she were about to walk off, the lens a witness to the mechanics of her strut. Identity of person holding the camera unknown.
August 21, 2010.
Seared Ahi tuna nestles against grilled asparagus.
August 23, 2010. With Ryan Lerner, Sera Lerner, Oswald Williams, and Beth Williams.
Mistaking it for a toy, Pryor has grabbed the camera from the porch steps, where Ryan placed it while he loaded a bag into the car. Only two faces are visible in the tableau of getting ready to go home. Beth gazes across the driveway at Sera, who gazes back across the driveway at Beth. Each has a look at once regretful and content, yearning and relieved, though no one word captures the image. The phrase, “We got away with it,” seems to fit. No matter what emotion caused the look—be it love, be it longing, be it lust—the sentiment is nonetheless the same. Summer is over.
Snowden Wright’s first novel, Play Pretty Blues, is forthcoming from Engine Books in November 2013. He has written for The Atlantic, Salon, Nerve, Esquire, and the New York Daily News. More of his work can be found here.