“There’s no way that’s true. What sort of person would just walk into the ocean?”
They had been going back and forth for most of their smoke break. Becca hated stories that lacked fact. She hated half-remembered news reports rife with inaccuracy. And that’s exactly what Lynne-Marie offered.
The waves licked at the rocks below, and Becca stared into them with purpose. “Where did you even hear this?”
“I don’t remember,” Lynne-Marie shrugged. “It doesn’t matter where, cuz she had to be drunk, right?”
“I don’t know, Lynn-Marie. Because this has to be total bullshit.”
“A drunk girl would walk straight into the water and drown though. I’ve known some crazy bitches…”
“Yeah, maybe, but I don’t know.”
Lynne-Marie shrugged again. Becca kept her eyes trained in front of her, watching the froth and the bubbles wrap around the pier beside them.
“I doubt it’s even true,” Becca said into the silence. The hypnotic, rhythmic lapping of the water needed to be broken. It was getting under her skin, prickling just below the surface.
“You’re probably right. It’s gotta be an urban legend sort of thing. Like the guy with a hook hand in the backseat.” Lynn-Marie stamped out her cigarette in the sand, then cupped the butt in her hand. Becca was relieved she wouldn’t have to scold the woman for littering. So many of her coworkers left the already dirty strip of beach blanketed in trash.
“Besides, if it were true, wouldn’t we have heard about it?”
“I dunno. Maybe? I guess it would have been in the papers.”
“Yeah.” Becca paused, hesitated, a little stub of cigarette lingering at her lips. “But who reads the paper anymore?”
Lynn-Marie exhaled loudly as she hoisted herself up. Her knees creaked audibly. Becca wordlessly added protesting joints to the ever-growing list of why she wouldn’t allow herself to become a career waitress.
Why she wouldn’t allow herself to die here in Atlantic City.
Why she wouldn’t fall victim to this place.
The two women trudged up the small incline back towards the restaurant. From outside Becca could hear the clanging glassware and the impatient voices. “Did you even ask Giancarlo if we could go out?”
Lynne-Marie tossed her butt in the dumpster and straightened her shirt. She angled herself under the single spotlight that illuminated the back dock and slipped a compact out of her apron. She laid a new layer of powder over the previous ones. Her complexion was pasty and thick. Becca’s lip curled. She wondered how Lynne-Marie could be so oblivious, to not realize the thick makeup settled in her wrinkles and only made her look older. Like a plaster mask.
“No,” Lynne-Marie breathed out after reapplying her mascara.
“I didn’t ask that pissant if I could go out. I’m not gonna ask some kid for permission.”
It was an understandable stance, but it made Becca sigh nonetheless. Lynn-Marie was burnt out, and tired, and pieces of her skin flaked off like molted flesh. Lynn-Marie had thrown in the towel.
“Is this how you imagined your life?” Becca asked, attempting to prolong their time in the cool night air.
“I never really did, I guess. Just figured it would happen. And it does. It just sort of plays out in front of you.”