by Trasie Sands

Sophie’s summer dress clings to her thighs and the boys watch, sweating more from the sight of her than from summer heat. The sun beats down on hundreds of purple flowers, never growing, never wilting, embracing Sophie’s tiny body. The summer months are spent this way. This is Sophie’s season and she places it comfortably under her arm and carries it with her to the beach.

By the lake, she collects rocks and smooth pieces of polished glass – something pretty to put in a jar and admire. The waves slap the sand, trapping it between Sophie’s curled toes and the breeze from the lake blows the purple flowers up and away from her freckled thighs.

She knows he’s watching like every other day.

‘You’re very beautiful,’ he says, but he looks at those thighs and not at her face. He tells her he takes pictures to send to magazines and the girls in the pictures can become famous.

‘There are better words to use than very,’ she tells him.

‘Alright, you’re dazzling, magnificent, alluring,’ he says. ‘Is that better?’

She nods and turns away, watching the water lap at her ankles. By the time she’s finished, she has filled her jar almost halfway with shells and stones and glass. He waits.

At his house, he tells her she should sit down and take off her sweater because the beautiful purple flowers need light. She folds her sweater neatly, glances at the single bulb hanging crooked on a brown rubber wire. She sits on the decayed, pea-green sofa in the den and waits as he puts film in his camera. He stares at her hips, never looking up to meet her eyes. His name is Tom, he says.

‘Are you nervous?’ he asks and sits next to her to adjust her posture and pose, brushing his fingers lightly against the side of her breast. Sophie doesn’t move, doesn’t look at him. He adjusts her hair and one bodice hook.

‘Undo just a few more, Sophie,’ he says, this time looking in her eyes. She unhooks all of them and he takes more photos. His camera clicks and winds constantly and Sophie sits patiently on the green sofa, her purple flowers scattered on the floor. Tom tells her she shines and asks her how she could be alone. The boys in town have no idea what they are missing. She doesn’t smile; she never smiles and she doesn’t move when he touches her.

Sophie crawls under the covers of her bed. The boys in town have no idea what they are missing, he said. But they know all about her. Sophie waits in the dark for the whistle at her window. Tonight, the whistler is a boy who works in the mall. A new boy. He’s heard about Sophie from a friend and would fifty be enough? Sophie accepts. She puts her purple flowers over the jar by the bed and puts the boy in her bed. Tonight will pay for the sweater she lost somewhere.

Trasie Sands is a Toronto writer and editor of The Blake-Jones Review. Her publications include The Antigonish Review, Fictive Dream, 101 Words, and Project Calm Magazine. Trasie has also been long-listed for a Bath Short Story Award. She has studied under Dr. Alistair MacLeod, Dr. Bruce Meyer, and Adele Wiseman while obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Drama from the University of Windsor.