Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about affairs by Joanne Naiman.
Joanne Naiman is a former lawyer and journalist, who now devotes herself fulltime to writing fiction. She has written for national publications on the topic of divorce, including The National Law Journal and HuffPost. She received a Clarion Award for her legal journalism. Joanne taught creative writing classes at the Writers Studio for fifteen years. She is a native and chronic New Yorker.
Joanne studied at the Writers Studio, where she later taught fiction and poetry for fifteen years. Her first short story appeared in Epiphany magazine. ‘Other Men’s Kind of Money’ is her second short story to be published.
‘Other Men’s Kind of Money’ follows a young girl doubting her mother’s decisions while on holiday.
Jack Rosenberg blew into our lives when I was twelve; any way you looked at him (up, down or even sideways) you saw cash. On Long Island, he was one of those super-rich snobby neighbours who only nodded hello, because he didn’t want to waste a whole wave on us. When we ran into him in Florida, he wore an expensive white Italian suit with a coordinated silk handkerchief. He steered a matching white Cadillac convertible up and down Miami Beach’s fancy Collins Avenue, and stopped right in front of my mother. I knew my mother was dazzled by money, but how could I suspect that when Jack Rosenberg pulled his Caddie up curbside, my mother would slide in?
Until Jack Rosenberg, I looked forward more than anything to my family’s annual trips to Miami Beach. There, my mother basked in the tropical sun and blossomed into the mother I wanted all year long. Back home, she didn’t bother to befriend me; her only child. She spent her time food shopping or talking to friends.
But in Miami, we’d lie at the pool in our matching bikinis; two straight strips of material covered my string bean body. Her bathing suit snuggly fit her hour glass figure. I’d feel the heat of the day still trapped in my mother’s tanned arms when she hugged me tightly.
Miami was also the only time I saw my parents display affection. At noon by the hotel shuffleboard court, my parents would Cha-Cha or Rumba or pull me in to join them on a Conga line or for an Alley Cat; my father would swing hips I didn’t know he had; my mother didn’t mind laughing at his corny jokes. On cloudy days, they’d take me to Parrot Jungle or Alligator Farm. My mother and father wrapped their arms around each other while they watched a man put his whole head in a crocodile’s mouth, as if this sight were as romantic as a full moon.
We walked the beach together for hours, me in the middle holding each parent’s hand. I loved the scent of the ocean as it foamed around our toes, cooling and tickling them; the hard-packed wet sand that left our footprints. A fleeting imprint of my family walking side by side by side.