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Where St. Pete Goes

by Bria Gomez

The sand blows over red and blackened bodies, the men in spandex, the women in strings, but all you really see is the ocean - long and blue, clear like the sky, flat and undisturbed, save the sleek, gray fin that simmers hope is just a dolphin while they secretly calculate how quickly they can dash out of the water and dive back into their Mercedes and Mustangs, speeding inland, inevitably over two-lane toll bridges that deny passage while white, curled and bobbing heads drive Caddies seven miles under and can't decipher whether the accelerator is on the right or the left, or whether they hear a horn behind them or a trumpet ahead calling them home, but either way, once the Caddies sputter over the bridge, the palm trees lined up every ten feet on either side of the road are the only barriers keeping them on the pavement and out of the fire ant-infested grass which no native Floridian would dare tread on without thick-soled flops, but which any sun-seeker tiptoes into only once before bringing a colony of red scuttlers up their ankles, insects who take massive chunks out of the skin and replace it with a pustule that burns, yet itches, too, like the swimmer in the Mustang or Mercedes who lost three minutes and twenty-nine seconds before passing the Caddies and now weaves in and out of Miatas, SUVs, and Buicks on the interstate that snakes from the Southside to the North, hoping members of the opposite sex in lesser cars are staring, ignoring the bright, cloudless blue sky and pulsating sun that inevitably leads old, young and Speedo-toting alike back to the sandy beaches.