The tanning beds at Foxy Jeans were housed
in the back room, side by side, twin coffins
containing the sun. For twenty-five dollars a month,
you could tan as often as you wanted. Adventurous
types availed themselves of the complimentary Playboy
stickers provided by management. They placed
the decals on their naked bodies, a white mark
preserved against their darkening skin. Most never
lined up the stickers the same way twice, the icon
mutating until it looked as if the bunnies had been
born after a nuclear accident, the product of a poisoned
land. I could never bring myself to seal my body
into one of the beds, trapped in the artificial brightness,
no matter how many women flashed me a hip, butt cheek,
or cleavage adorned with their deformed bunnies, proud
of what they’d done, assuring me it was worth the trouble.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Brooks has been published or is forthcoming in Threepenny Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Iowa Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Natural Bridge. Her poetry collection, Make Yourself Small, was published by Backwaters Press, and her novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy, was published by Storylandia Press.
The photograph of the tanning bed is in the public domain under the designation CC0 1.0 Universal.