Since Brexit, they’ve opened a tanning studio where the Polish deli used to be. I’m inside, curled up on a sun-bed like a fetus. Going to make my skin invulnerable. Going to lie here toasting. Going to forget science-based evidence and evidence-based science. Going to dose myself with UV. Going to banish the pallor like we did when sunning was still okay. When you thought a nice tan made a woman more attractive.
At first, when I’m golden-hued, people say, you look well, been on your hols? I say sort of. I could be in a space capsule, lying here with the sun-bed lid down, seeing what astronauts see when they contemplate Earth. The land mass and the oceans, all that richness and diversity we used to have disappearing moment by moment. Zooming in closer, my eyes shut tight under the goggles, I can almost catch the way you gazed at me before your face hardened and you talked about entitlement. Who deserved what at the end of everything.
At the tanning studio, the receptionist stares when my skin turns more orange than golden. She says I might be over doing it. I say, no worries, the studio’s curing me. Now my skin’s toughened, I’m going through all our memories — picking them apart. Nothing hurts here under the lamps. It only hurts at home, when my finger discovers the tender place under a frazzle of hair at my nape. That one soft spot you loved, which never got burned.
Jude Higgins is published in Flash Frontier, New Jones Street, The Nottingham Review, The Blue Fifth Review, The New Flash Fiction Review, NFFD anthologies among other places. She has won or been placed in several flash fiction competitions. Her debut flash fiction pamphlet, ‘The Chemist’s House’,was published by V.Press in 2017. She organises Bath Flash Fiction Award and directs Flash Fiction Festivals UK.
Twitter: @judehwriter Web: judehiggins.com