Interview with the Ghost of Jaws’ First Victim – Meagan Cass


What I wanted was to get laid. We had pot, a bonfire, cable knit sweaters. The night was scalloped with acoustic guitar. He was on vacation from a Greenwich prep, tan with butter blond hair, a member of the rowing team. I knew to make myself mysterious, to weave the dunes on the balls of my feet, to trail garments, to play at Little Mermaid years before the Disney version.

Like the sound of a drunk driving crash on the L.I.E. Like a hundred cosmetic scissors stabbing my legs. It took forever.

He’d fallen asleep.

After: men ball pointing my name on reporter pads, on autopsy reports; men in badges hammering warnings to telephone poles; men netting their wives’ roasts for bait; men in small boats wielding long harpoons; men with cold fathers, war stories, advanced degrees, a love of whiskey; men eager to hunt their jerry-rigged Moby Dick. Also boys swimming for merit badges, boys sailing play crafts, boys pretending to be sharks, fins strapped to their backs. The wives and mothers lay on Macy’s towels, adjusted straw hats, watched the sea.

What can I say about what I dreamed, what I would have become? They wrote me flat as a girl on a beach town billboard, bikinied, hip cocked, welcoming men to forget their wives’ stretch marks and winter tweed, their kids’ test scores and fall allergies, their station wagon commutes, their happy hour guts, their weaknesses, their own monstrousness. I was the siren they had to kill off to continue their quest.

Should I tell you I loved archaeology? Would you like to picture me on a plane to Peru, my perfect hair tucked beneath a bucket hat, my purse filled with bone brushes and trowels? Archaeology Barbie?

Call my family in North Hempstead. Tell my mother I was beautiful before the end, my body backlit with moonlight, my long hair waving. Tell my father I actually liked cribbage. Tell my sister to stop plucking above her eyebrows, to be wary of boys from Connecticut.