… In (What’s Left Of) Southern Florida
- A canoe and a paddle. Both made of something that won’t go soggy or heavy with water. Something aerodynamic, to get you far from the sprawl of your apartment complex, the smog, the lattice of floating walkways, the ferry boats.
- A picnic partner. Your webbed-foot child, the girl with round glasses who makes eyes at you on the ferry, the cashier with rosacea and bad jokes. Ask if they want to float around somewhere else for a change.
- Sunscreen. Spread on the exposed parts of your body—your wrists, your ankles, your neck, your face. Bring lots for you and your passenger. Unless, of course, you’ve opted to take your child. Her skin is thicker than yours. And, she’s always warm, like she’s got an electric coil wrapped around her skeleton. You should reapply sunscreen regularly.
- A picnic blanket, patterned with something cute—googly-eyed sharks or tiny daisies. Sharks to remind you not to float towards the Atlantic. Daisies to remind you not to touch the neon red blooms of algae—no matter how furry they look, no matter the cool curlicue shapes they twist in and out of. Your child may be able to touch the algae, but we’re still not sure. Call her back if she’s swimming.
- A machete. Dig it out from the back of your closet, sharpen it safely. If you choose to picnic by the Everglades and end up floating into the mangroves, you’ll have to hack your way out before you get swallowed whole. What happens to the picnickers who disappear into the swamp? We’re not sure. You could sail through those branches forever, and what would you find in the center? What would eat you?
- Food. The fiery hot chips that dye your hands day-glo orange, that old apple with a fissure running across its side, a pair of hard candies wrapped in cellophane. Eat quickly; bat away the bugs. Take the empty packaging home or let it join the dunes of trash deep in the water.
- Bandaids and Advil. For the blisters on your palms, for the tight feeling behind your eyes. The band-aids might go slippery with sweat. Maybe they’ll splash into the water, too. You know nothing can dull the heat of the sun, the brightness of its apricot reflection on the water. Advil’s always worth a shot.
- Binoculars. To watch manatees. To go close to the shores and watch the giant gators pretend to be rocks. Maybe you’ll spy something else. Maybe you can send your child—your powerful little swimmer—to bring back a slice of a column from an old mansion. The two of you can talk about who might have lived there, what they might have done.
- A beer. Choose something light to match the water, or choose something dark to match the crescent moons of mud under your nails. Say “cheers,” to your sepia reflection in the waves. Hopefully, the yeasty smell, the click of your fingers against aluminum, the crackle of carbonation takes you back to another time, another picnic.
Aleksia Mira Silverman (@AleksiaMira) is a content strategist and freelance writer based in Florida. She graduated from Bowdoin College in 2019 where she co-founded and served as the editor-in-chief of The Foundationalist. You can read her fiction in Tart Magazine’s newsletter, The Winnow Magazine, and Rejection Letters.