The Edge of Eden

Contributor: Kristen Keckler
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Pam and Jerry arrived at the Eden pool, the adults-only section of the resort, expecting to see flesh—the website had alluded to “European-style bathing.” So when they’d found everyone in swimsuits, Pam was relieved. Jerry pretended to be disappointed but he wasn’t. He just wanted to be, didn’t want to worry about anything, nothing, not even tits.
“Isn’t this classy?” Pam said as they claimed two in the line of chaise lounges. She’d never seen an infinity pool—the pool’s tiles shone like opals, the water flowing over into a tile-lined moat. But instead of lining up with the ocean, the edge only lined up with the fence.
Green hammocks hung from poles among raised queen-size mattresses and pruned palms with bark like the skin of pineapples. A clutch of yuppies from Jersey sat on the ledge, debating St. Martin over St. Barts, the casinos, golf, and “natives.”
“Listen to them,” Pam said. “The one in the purple thong is a doctor—surgeon, cardiology.”
“You miss nothing,” Jerry said.
“I miss you,” she said.
Jerry laughed—she was right—and stroked his scruffy gray goatee. As Pam rubbed milky sunscreen into his back, the faded eagle tattooed on his deltoid flexed. Still laughing, he returned the favor, and when he lingered over the familiar constellation of freckles on her shoulders, she said, “Get under the straps?”
She adjusted the front of her pink one-piece, arranged the skirt-thingy that hid her uppermost thighs. Jerry watched her tuck her champagne blonde hair under her floppy hat.
“Another margarita?” he asked.
“Let’s try that thing,” she said, stacking her magazines.
“That the lady at breakfast was talking about?”
“She was a teacher.”
“With a mouth like that.”
Pam grinned.
A Dominican waitress suddenly materialized, clad in all white, like a nurse, the outline of white underpants showing through tight slacks. She listened to his description, some piña colada daiquiri concoction.
“Miami Bice,” she said.
“Bice,” Jerry repeated, and kept repeating as the afternoon wore on.


Pam lowered herself into the pool, pushing the water in circles. “Look, Jerr, I’m a mermaid!” she called out, then crossed and rolled her eyes. She did a dance for him, stringing her fingers through the air like a belly dancer, the way she had years ago at Hogs and Honeys—she’d had a good little figure back then. Jerry still liked it, even if she didn’t.
He had that grin. He rolled his shoulders to the ambient music, winking at her, sipping his drink.
“Come in!” she said. “It’s refreshing, the water, it’s like caresses,” but he shook his head, took another sip. “Bice,” he said.
Their waitress—Luz—brought another round.
Under the surface, Pam slipped out of her top, felt the water flow over her nipples, tried to get Jerry’s attention, but he was studying the fence. She felt reckless, silly, even a little spurned, like she had the first time they met, at that dive bar watching some cover band. She licked the salt off her lips, waded to shallow end.


The sun had moved beyond their umbrella, and they squinted at the light glinting off the pool, something profound about it.
“I can’t believe we’re actually here,” Pam said.
“Are you crying?” Jerry glanced at her, then around the deck. “You’re not fucking crying.”
Two women in the chairs next to them were reading, one from a thick hardcover, which she lowered to her tanned stomach, as if she’d lost her thought.
“I’m just happy,” Pam said, rolling her body toward him. “Drunk and happy! Twenty-four years, and our little Jonah, that Tina actually married Jonah’s dad, and that Billy isn’t dead. Remember, we thought he’d be dead.”
“He’s a fucking dentist,” Jerry said.
“He was a wild man.”
“But Jonah,” Jerry said. And felt his own eyes welling. He said, “I never got why women cry, then say they’re happy.”
“It’s like men drinking,” she said.
“I never said I was happy.”
She held up the issue of People in her lap. “All these people who have so much more than us, private planes, infinity pools, Miami Vices every day. But they don’t have, I don’t know, anything real.”
Jerry sighed, stared at the supposedly infinite edge of the pool, kept staring.
“You deserve this vacation more than anyone—Jerry Conners, you deserve this!”
“Infinite my ass.”
“Especially after what happened on your birthday.”
He hefted himself up and lumbered over to the pool, the waistband of his trunks hanging low under his gut, waded in, waded away from her, jaw set, Bice high in the air. He dunked his head—shock of coldness.
Eyes closed, she counted her breaths, one through ten, trying to bring back the moment. When she opened them, he was beside her, dripping puddles onto the nice stone deck.


The sun now only hit the hammocks beside the fence, and the mattresses were scattered with damp towels abandoned and twisted into lumps. The wind had picked up, carrying a hint of chlorine and fryer grease. Luz appeared, asking, “You like something else?”
“No,” Pam said.
“Gracias,” he said, fumbling with a wad of bills, sliding several off for a tip.
Pam stood and looked at the pool, now empty. “See, Hun?” she said, pointing. “A petal from this morning!” There’d been lots, she’d heard, all colors of roses, when the pool opened that morning.
She dipped her feet in, and as the petal drifted across the swells, peach as a swatch of flesh, she imagined hundreds floating, spilling over.
Some waiters were wheeling in carts of flowers for a wedding, orchids, birds of paradise, and he noticed then, as if for the first time, the carefully landscaped plots along the fence, the lemon yellow lilies with orange freckles, the papery purple bougainvillea spilling over raised beds, and even his wife, hands stretched behind her neck, rising from the pool like a lotus.

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Kristen Keckler's work has appeared in the Iowa Review, Prick of the Spindle, Ecotone, and other magazines. She currently teaches creative writing at Mercy College in the Bronx and is obsessed with basketball, astrology, flip-flops (sandals) and cats.
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