by Philip Harris
She floats above the cove. She sees her body—the red puffy jacket, the blue skin now bloated in the cold sea. Her famously brunette hair floats on the soft waves but not like in the movies, not like in her movies. Her hair isn’t a cloud of warm brown. Strands are caught on her nose and eyelashes. Some locks even wrap around her neck. Her eyes protrude, and she wears no make up. This is a real death, no showbiz.
She hopes, now that she floats above, that she’ll get more answers, that she’ll finally know more. Instead, a single moment. The water had been too much, and she was no longer in her body. There were supposed to be answers when one died, right? All the questions were supposed to be addressed.
In the distance, she sees the yacht. She can see the men, Christopher and RJ. They are walking up and down the deck, their hands sometimes at their temples. Sometimes they are bent over. She can’t make out what they say, but she knows they know. She knows they see her body, the body of a movie star floating lifeless off Catalina. They are discussing something, often pointing to the cove. But she can’t hear. She can’t know the truth.
Her wrist no longer hurts because she no longer has wrists. She has no need to smile, for she has no mouth. No need to stay thin, for she has no body.
Further in the distance she hears her mother. No, don’t want to go there. Don’t want to follow that path. But, must, must get out of the water. I am out of the water. I’m floating above, looking out to shore. So far away—further and further away.
She floats above the funeral. Frank Sinatra is a pallbearer. She wants to yell out what happened, but she can’t. Not only is she invisible, not only can they not hear her, but that question hasn’t been answered. She only saw the men, one of whom—her husband—now sits among the other mourning celebrities.
They drop the coffin into the center of the city. She watches from the trees shading the tombstone. At first, many come, but soon, the crowd dwindles and it’s only the occasional nostalgic film buff or the random over-obsessed gay guy. People will forever be more interested in Marilyn’s square twenty feet away in the tiny mausoleum. She watches budding actresses—something she never was—kiss the marble of Marilyn’s tomb, leaving a lipstick print behind.
Don’t do it, she wishes she could say. Don’t go down that path. You’ll end up naked twisted up in sheets or floating in a quiet cove off Catalina, the men pacing back and forth, occasionally pointing to where you finally succumbed to the water.
Philip Harris is an MFA Fiction candidate at San Francisco State University. He was born in Hollywood and currently lives in San Francisco, but doesn’t really know where home is at the moment. His work has been published in Vogue UK, The Atticus Review, and the Los Angeles Review. He recently finished his first novel.