The sunset over the ocean from a western beach on Straussenberg Island was quite possibly the most amazing thing Hannah Haskell had ever seen. It was almost the end of her first day as a Sandy Shoals employee, and she was sitting in the sand with her knees up to her chest, wiggling her bare toes deep into the sand and watching the sun sink out of view.
She heard voices approaching from behind, two of them. She recognized the unapologetically sardonic tones and knew without turning they were her new roommates, the two intimidatingly well-sculpted, tanned young women that looked like they had stepped off one of the brochures Hannah was being trained to hand to customers. Beach Bodied, the employee handbook called it, and it was the reason Hannah had spent her first ten minutes as a Sandy Shoals employee standing uncomfortably still in a bikini top and a pair of shorts, while a balding man in a pair of swim trunks pinched her in various places with calipers. Other companies had drug tests. Sandy Shoals Beaches and Resort had the Beach Body test.
“Hey. New roomie.”
“Hannah,” she corrected, determined not to turn away from the sunset.
Footstep squeaked in the sand. The blond one who had introduced herself that morning, Kat, entered her vision. “Hannah,” she agreed absently, scratching at a set of abs so perfect they may as well have been airbrushed. “What are you doing?”
“I’m watching the sun set,” Hannah replied, rolling her eyes over to regard the girl fully. Tiny, no more than five foot three, she nonetheless had a lean, gamine appeal in her bikini top and loose men’s board shorts that Hannah’s four years at a liberal arts college had no trouble identifying. The rainbow pooka shell necklace around her neck was also a big clue.
Kat turned her head to squint at the horizon. “Huh.” She turned back, running a hand through her short, sun-bleached hair. “Well, we’re gonna go get drunk. You coming?”
Hannah tipped her head back to look at her other roommate, who had what looked like a water cooler jug propped on her shoulder. The tall woman glowered at her, the expression particularly effective given the amount of hardware that had taken up residence on her face since the last time Hannah had seen her. “Holy shit,” she blurted before she could censor herself.
The woman flashed her a toothy, pleased look that Hannah supposed was meant to be a smile. “Hiya, Peaches,” she greeted.
“Hi,” Hannah replied sheepishly. “Sorry. I just… you didn’t have those this morning, did you?”
“Have what?” She lifted a hand up to her face, patting gently, a horrified expression filling her eyes. “Oh my God! What the hell is this? My face!”
“Your face!” Kat exclaimed, a hand flying to her mouth – Hannah had no trouble seeing the laughing smile peeking through her fingers, and tried to muster a glare before laughing ruefully. “So, what’ll it be? You coming?”
Hannah looked over at the brilliant colors of the sky, and Kat sighed. “If it helps you make up your mind, I promise it’s going to set again tomorrow. Yvonne won’t have vodka again tomorrow.” The other woman shook her half-full jug to punctuate the statement. Kat held out a hand, squinting at her measuringly.
Hannah allowed herself to be pulled to her feet and brushed the sand off the back of her obnoxiously tight capris. “I thought employees couldn’t buy alcohol.”
Yvonne looked briefly scandalized, shifting the jug from one muscular shoulder to the other. “Alcohol? This is my specially filtered water!”
Kat chuckled and scratched her scalp, gesturing towards a well-hidden path in the tangled jungle-like wilderness that separated the resort proper from the employee housing. “Yeah, filtered through potatoes, at high heat.”
“It sounds very healthy,” Hannah deadpanned, hoping she was following the banter the way she thought she was as she picked her way along the path behind the more sure-footed employees.
“Oh, it is,” Yvonne replied, the ripple of laughter in her tone loosening Hannah’s nerves slightly. “Important for my mental health, especially.”
It was almost completely dark, and Hannah was starting to get nervous about being left behind, when she caught sight of the orange glow they were trooping towards. She smiled disbelievingly at the sight that greeted her when she stepped into the clearing.
“Don’t get too excited,” Yvonne threw over her shoulder. “It’s not like anyone here is what’d you’d call a winner.” She shoved her way past a couple of wildly groping swimsuit models – Hannah was beginning to wonder if she would ever get used to everyone looking like Greek statuary – and over to the water cooler stand. She dropped the jug down with practiced ease, not spilling a drop.
“How was your first day?” Kat asked, shoving an empty pitcher in her hands and fighting open a battered plastic container of Tang. “Don't judge me,” she snapped. “I couldn't get anyone to steal me enough orange juice from the kitchen. Get that judge-y look off your face or go drink it raw with Yvonne.”
Hannah glanced over at her other roommate, who was standing with her head tipped back and her eyes closed, a paper cone held gently in her fingertips, apparently oblivious to her surroundings. She sighed and held the pitcher steady. “Doesn't seem that different than college. Bonfires and tang bangers.”
Kat grinned and licked her fingers clean of orange powder. “You're learning.”