Till Human Voices Wake Us
by Jay Malkin
swam in the ocean at Jones Beach, three young girls. All three
were at that stage, around fifteen or sixteen, when young girls,
some of them anyway, really blossom into paragons of youthful
beauty and become fully aware of their allure and sensuality.
One was blond, chiseled features, blue eyes,
a real ice princess. Another looked South American, dark skin
and full lips. The third was Asian, with silky black hair, a porcelain
complexion and almond eyes. The three were messing around, bobbing
about in the water just at the depth the waves began rising, their
long hair trailing behind them. Sometimes, when the water ebbed,
onlookers caught tantalizing glimpses of full breasts under their
bikini tops and whittled waists.
Just about every man and boy above a certain
age was aware of their presence.
Bob Fredicci, 54, twice married and twice divorced,
was riding the waves and wondering if the girls had noticed him,
as he slowly found himself swimming his way in their direction.
Hed always been a ladies man, so why wouldnt
they notice him, and perhaps blush and giggle awkwardly as he
worked his charm on them?
"Oh my gawd!" the blond girl gasped
to her friends, motioning toward him. "Did you see that guy
checking us out?"
"You mean the one with the pot belly?"
giggled the dusky girl.
"Yeah, and hair on his backyuck!"
"Gross me out!"
Bob shamefacedly paddled away.
Mishnowski, 33, receding hairline, was body surfing. His wife
was on the shore watching their two young children dig in the
sand. But he was forgetting about them all, moving toward these
dream girls. Maybe theyd be in awe of him, somehow knowing
all hed accomplished as logistics manager at his consumer
packaged goods company. Maybe they liked the intellectual type.
The three girls formed a circle and started
giggling. "What a dweeb! Ugh!" snickered the Asian girl.
"Talk about pale, looks like hes
been sitting at a computer all summer," said the dark girl.
"And somebody should teach him about comb-overs!"
Mike turned away, trying to pretend he hadnt heard their
comments. He cursed himself for being such a sucker. This type
of girl hadnt gone for someone like him in high school or
college, and they certainly wouldnt now that he was no longer
young. He had an urge to swim deeper and deeper into the ocean
until pulled down to a watery death.
Becky Dorfman, eighteen and self-conscious of how even the bathing
suit shed picked out that was practically guaranteed to
flatter the figures of women with big hips and long torsoes wasnt
working, was swimming with her friend Ashley OConnell. "I
wish someone would drown those girls," said Becky. "They
are so bitchy."
"Yeah," said Ashley with little enthusiasm for the event
actually occurring. Ashley knew that the sun would make her multitude
of freckles even more multitudinous and was wondering if she should
break up with her boyfriend, who seemed to mostly ignore her.
"I hate girls like that."
The Asian girl held her nose and dunked under water. She came
up, hair covering her face, then flipped her hair over her head.
Her hair flaired out, catching the sun, flicking light-imbued
drops of water, her body forming a perfect arc. You could almost
hear every man on the beach breathe one audible sigh.
Jason Koons, sixteen, tote bag and oversized towel in hand, followed
his parents and younger sisters as they trekked down the beach.
"Gotta look for somewhere close to the water but not too
close, you know," explained his father.
Jason didnt care about finding the perfect
spot as much as avoiding other kids his age as much as possible.
He let his shaggy hair fall over his eyes so he could peer around,
looking anxiously to see if anyone from his school was there to
snub him. After spending most of his life as the dorky kid with
reading problems who was in Special Ed, hed learned to fear
the taunts and ostracism of most of the "regular" kids,
and aside from a few friends, spend most of his time alone.
"What about here?" asked his mom, and everyone began
laying out their towels and beach paraphernalia. Jason pulled
off his shirt, once more ducking under his hair to avoid the possible
sight of anyone who might be snickering at his pudginess.
He did love the ocean, though. He made his way to the water, noticing
sickly that there were three very attractive girls, just the sort
to ridicule him. Luckily, he thought, he was far from the only
chunky, doofy guy on the beach, and since he didnt recognize
these girls, hoped they would simply leave him alone.
three girls started giggling and pushing each other around playfully.
Suddenly they turned almost as one toward the shore and stared
as if mesmerized as Jason waded into the water. Their raw youth
seemed to fade, replaced with something timeless. Then they started
Their song insinuated itself into everyones minds as if
they were each hearing it in their own dreams. The voices were
so enticing. The men heard it and remembered their lost youth,
their hopes and dreams and how theyd longed for finding
that unearthly, beautiful woman who loves you just as you are,
and they were filled with longing once again.
For the women, the song brought them back to when they were very
young. It was a song about looking in the mirror and being entirely
happy with what you saw and assuming that youd grow up to
have the face and figure of a fairy princess, or Barbie, or at
the very least, a fashion model, and boys would be lined up to
ask you to dances and proms. A time before you realized that youd
never be more than a plain, if not homely, woman settling for
someone who was all too imperfectly human.
But for Jason the voices were calling to him and him alone, pleading
with him, full of longing, to come with them, where he would be
loved, where they would introduce him to such pleasures. They
wanted him, were hungry for him, their hearts were breaking with
love and desire.
The girls were moving out to sea, Jason with them, until a piercing
noise shattered their song. The lifeguard, aware that the boy
was swimming way past where he should be, had snapped himself
together, fumblingly gathered his whistle to his mouth and blown.
Jason blinked, the girls, or whatever they were, had gone, and
had they ever even been there in the first place? He swam back
to shore, bereft, but irrevocably changed.
He now saw himself as those girls had seen him, as someone whose
pudginess had melted away when hed shot up those extra inches
over the past few months. That he was actually slim, broad-shouldered,
and good-looking in that bewitching way that would enable him
to turn girls hearts to jelly, that they found the way he
had of hiding under his hair to be absolutely adorable. The girls
at school would look at him and want him. And if they didnt,
plenty of other girls would. That this year would be different.
In fact, the rest of his life would be a lot different.
Everyone else who had heard the song went home
feeling oddly out of sorts, and not in a good way. They and their
lives now seemed empty, devoid, maddeningly mediocre, and it would
take many days for things to feel normal again.
Jay Malkin lives on Long Island. His
interests include birdwatching, yoga, and catching up on his sleep.
Editor's Note: The artwork for this story
was supplied by www.fontcraft.com,
one of the best sites on the Internet to purchase famous works
of art on CD and original fonts.