Rosalina is Mexico pulled inside-out. A striking woman, smooth as an olive, with a firm bun of brown hair. Desire on legs, whether she’s pussyfooting between the rooms at the Salon or she’s doing a Brazilian on a client under stark, fluorescent lights, patting the pussy, waking it up.
When I arrive after three months of growth tangled between my thighs, Rosa is busy with another client. I don’t mind waiting. Other attendants pass by. I hold their faces for a moment. Nice girls. Girls waiting for someone. A man or a woman, doesn’t matter. Not Rosa. She’s here even when she isn’t.
When the door opens, a twenty-something girl walks out. Rumpled hair and flushed cheeks. I walk in and Rosa hugs me, the smell of her lavender shampoo tickling my straight bearings. She replaces the sheet, sprays the room with Lysol, and adjusts the TV. A busty Latino is singing.
“Long time.” She sticks a towel between her breasts and helps me undress. A layer of wax glistens over my pubic bone like molten gold. I tell her my husband is traveling again, the last trip to India seemed so long and my swimming lessons are going well, as if I have promised to disclose all the details of my life. She talks about her ex-boyfriend whose last name was Ali. He was a carpet weaver from Iran who liked to have burritos and pancakes for breakfast. They had sex every single day when they were together. Sometimes even three times a day. One morning, the immigration authorities took him away. He never came back. She presses the strip and pulls hard.
“Shit.” I bite my tongue.
“He coming soon?”
“Your husband? You have someone else?” She laughs and the luster in her eyes deepens as she wipes the exposed skin and applies moisturizer, slowly circling from my navel to my clit. I see her arched eyebrows, sweat trickling down her neck, her frame oscillating between hurt and pleasure, and I feel words rolling on my tongue and falling back, sticking in my throat.
“Take your time.” Her voice cracks. She pats down my pussy, her fingers groping the flesh for reassurance. I try not to think of my vacant home, my absent husband, the swimming lessons I don’t go to, and the vacation that never happened. I’m wet, maybe even smelling. The room is like a void, nothing but a knot of excitement in motion. This is the real thing. I repeat it quietly. I’ll never come here again. I’ll come here again and again and again.
The girl on the TV is still singing.