Another Beautiful Margarita (1995)

You shielded your eyes against the light, fierce and poisonous, shining off the sandy playa around the outline of my body.

“Shut the fucking door,” you said.

“Sure,” I said, but I didn’t do it. You pressed your arm over your eyes, pulling the sheet up to your armpits.

I took off my sunglasses, but still: thick blackness. You had left the lights off inside the cabana. The air was damp with deodorant and tequila sweat. And from my own body: the coconut scent of suntan lotion. The ceiling fan pulled the outside air inside; I felt it passing around my ankles.

“It’s actually cooler outside,” I said.

“Yeah, I imagine,” you said. Through the swimming darkness, I could make out the shape of your feet, shining in the reflected light. You hadn’t taken off your sneakers since last night. “And hammocks, too, right?”

“Yeah, right.”

“And big blue daquiris, with paper umbrellas?”

Claro, I said.

“There’s nothing for it,” you said. “I can’t stay inside forever, I guess.”

“That’s the spirit,” I said. The recipe for happiness: warm ocean breezes, hammocks, stupid sweet island drinks, sunshine. Shaken, not stirred.

On the plane, you begged Diane—the flight attendant—for drinks with umbrellas. Another beautiful margarita, dear, you said, With a lovely umbrella, dear. Oh marvelous, you said, when they put umbrellas in the gin-and-tonics, umbrellas in the screwdrivers, umbrellas in the scotch-and-sodas, umbrellas in every drink we ordered. We were going on honeymoon, but then, we weren’t really intending to get married, I suppose. But even after what happened last Tuesday, we decided there wasn’t any good reason not to get married. Your folks had already paid for the reception and everything, anyway. Just one more beautiful margarita, Diane, you said.

I sat myself on the steamer trunk by the door. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness. Your hair was matted with sweat against the side of your head, over half your face. Your lipstick was smeared into a broad streak of blackberry—your darkest color—from the corner of your mouth to just in front of your ear. I threw my towel onto the bed. “If you still have your swimsuit on, you don’t need to take a shower—”


“I mean, the ocean.”

“I think I’m naked,” you said. You ran your hand along the side of your body, under the sheet. The sheet was pulled taut against the curve of your hip and thigh, a damp contour of the side of your body. In the angry yellow reflected sunshine, it almost looked as if someone else’s hand moved across your skin, under the sheet. I felt a distinct pang, a tightening, run through my body, from my chest to my thighs. You said, “no, I still have my sneakers on.”

“Come on, then,” I said, “go naked if you have to. I can’t drink alone.”

“Yeah, a drink would be good, I suppose.” You rolled onto your back, reaching for the cigarettes on the night table. “At least now I can drink again...I mean, know...”

“I know.”

“There’s nothing for it,” you said, sitting up. With a smooth motion you lit a cigarette, took a short drag, shook out the match, and exhaled nervously. The ceiling fan whirred through the pause that followed, under the dingalingding of the ice cream guy’s cart passing along the playa. You flicked the burnt match with two fingers, watching it strike the splintery wood floor, smoldering, and you shut your eyes.