Pink Bikini by Vanessa Couchman

She stretches out on a sun lounger every day. Her coffee-toned body is shiny with oil, a straw hat protects her golden head. A deep pink scarf, the same colour as her bikini, is wound around the brim, the ends dangling over her breasts. The bikini is more like a couple of handkerchiefs strung together.

Sometimes Pink Bikini turns onto her front and her hands stretch around to undo the clasp behind her back, leaving her silky skin open to the sun.

‘Let me help you with that,’ I want to call out, but of course I don’t.

I dream of putting my hand on her sun-warmed flesh. I dream of sniffing the mixture of salty sweat and lotion. I dream of Pink Bikini’s breasts squashed up against the canvas of the sun lounger. Better still, pressed up against me.

I move as close as I dare. She never goes into the sea. Neither do I.

I lie on my school swimming towel, the brim of my shapeless sunhat pulled down, hoping to glimpse her nipples. I peek at Dad, who pretends his eyes are closed. Mum scrabbles around in the picnic bag, lips tight.

Every day at five o’clock, Pink Bikini picks up her beach bag and leaves. I bet her boyfriend has an Italian sports car and an all-over tan. I examine my speckled arms and legs, the colour of weak tea.

Our last day. Mum says Dad has to help with the packing. This time, I’ll go and speak to her. I’m getting to my feet when another girl wanders over to her sun lounger. Pink Bikini drops the magazine she’s been flicking through. She gives a wide smile that shows level white teeth. The girl leans over and kisses her on the lips. Pink Bikini gets up and they stroll arm-in-arm along the beach towards the bar.

Vanessa Couchman has lived in France since 1997 and writes novels, short stories and flash fiction. She is published/forthcoming in 5MinuteFiction, FiveMinuteLit, FlashBack Fiction, FlashFlood Journal, Friday Flash Fiction, Reflex, Sundial Magazine, WestWord Journal, Writing Magazine among others, and in numerous anthologies. Website: