CH. 12: The Hour of Alchemy

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"Why didn't you ever say anything?" Mac asked Rachel.

They were sitting on the beach and all around them scantily clad guys and gals were revving up the party, hoisting back Selfridge and Wyatt liquor alike, but it was like the three of them were in a bubble. Rachel took a sip from a longneck and nodded.

"I don't know, Mac. Fear? Shame? I didn't know how to and by the time I was gonna do it anyway, you left."

Mac took a sip of her own. Gwenie lit a Marlboro Light 100. A couple of college girls skipped by holding towels and a cooler. Gwenie dug into their own cooler and pulled free a beer. She planted her cigarette between lips and twisted off the top.

"So, you were just living with this?" Gwenie asked Rachel. "Man. For how long?"

"Gwenie," Mac said, trying to halt her sister.

"No, it's cool," Rachel said. "I don't know. Forever."

"You don't have to-" Mac said.

"I'm all right. A lot of therapy. This must be confusing for you. It was like, my body was against me. That something was always wrong. Off. And I knew what it was but I didn't. Tried to bury it. You and I used to get fucked up, like bad, Mac."

"Yeah, I get that," Mac said. "I mean, I don't. Not the way you mean. But, being at odds with your body. Yeah. My mental shit. Knowing something's off. Sometimes it's just easier to get blitzed."

Not knowing what to say, they fell silent, three women sitting in the shadow of their surfboards. Mac took a sip and watched a volleyball game go back and forth down the beach. The players' laughter floated across the sand and she wasn't sure how to receive it.

"This one time," Gwenie said, expelling smoke, "when I was in junior high, I went skinny dipping with some of my friends in one of their parents' pools. At least I thought we were going skinny dipping. Turned out everyone had suits and it just me bare naked in front of Susie and Jimmy and all of them."

"That's awful," Rachel said.

"It was funny really. Shaking my little eighth grade booty. I didn't care. I just dove in to the water and swam. Whatever, man. Wyatt women are taught to be proud of their bodies. I'm glad you finally found that for yourself. You look great. Very pretty."

Mac looked at Rachel looking at Gwenie. She could see her old friend wrestling with the compliment until finally Rachel said, "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Gwenie cheerily and stubbed out her smoke in the sand. Then, she reached into the cooler and pulled out two fresh beers. "You guys are empty."

Mac held up her half full beer and Rachel did likewise and Gwenie greeted the gestures with a raised eyebrow and a sly smile. They looked to Gwenie then they looked to each other and with grin and a shrug, chugged their brews to completion. Then, all three ladies took their fresh beers in their hands, toasted and sealed the deal of their burgeoning trio.

"But, look at you," Mac said to Rachel with mounting enthusiasm. "You got a body on you. Must have to beat 'em off."

"For starters," Rachel laughed and bought into Mac's vibe. "But get a few drinks in me and I do much more. And look at you, Mac. You got tattoos."

"And you got busty! You could balance a lunch tray on those things- Sorry. I got a mouth and, you know me, I- Too far."

Rachel blushed. "I see an endocrinologist," then she paused and threw it out there, "And I had a little work done."

"Well, you're the total package," Gwenie said.

"Thank you for telling me," Mac said. "Us."

"And you're OK with it? With me?"

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