Illustration by Emma D.

It all started, as so many ghost stories do, with a boyfriend and a bathing suit. These things had nothing to do with each other except for the fact that I loved them both. The boyfriend and I were stupid and young and crazy about each other, but also drove each other crazy. It was “complicated” in the way that only being in love at 25 years of age can be. The bathing suit however, was awesome.

It was a 1970s vintage bikini that made me look like a hot Manson girl. It came from California, and I often fantasized that its previous owner was Joni Mitchell. In other words, it was perfect, but it was also old. (Sorry, Joni.) The elastic string on the waistband had stretched out so much that the bikini bottom wouldn’t stay on. Boring story short, I took the bottom to the tailor to get fixed.

Around that same time, my boyfriend cheated on me. I was surprised because we were so obsessed with each other (this was before I knew that obsession ≠ love). He got wasted on wine and went down on a girl with his purple wine-stained lips. I know this happened because my boyfriend told me. He sat down at the foot of my bed, where ghosts love to sit, and told me what happened because he felt guilty. I felt really, really sad.

Both my boyfriend and the bikini bottom got thrown out in the same week. Sometimes it even feels like it was the same day, only because I can’t remember which thing made me feel worse. The boyfriend and I knew it was time to end things, but the bathing suit? I hadn’t seen that coming at all.

The tailor apologized profusely: “We mistook it for an old piece of fabric and threw it away!” I screamed, I stomped my feet, and I’m sure I even cried. This freaked the tailor out. Some old guy at the tailor shop was like, “Calm down, it’s just a bathing suit!” which angered me more. I guess at the time I felt like it wasn’t just a bathing suit, but more like the thing that would make me look hot enough to get another boyfriend. If the ex-boyfriend represented something I had to let go of, then the best bikini I had ever owned represented something I deserved to hang on to. Now I had to let go of both, and that’s when the pain started to set in. Hard.

Cut to eBay. I searched for a vintage 1970s bikini and I found one. I bid on it. I won. It wasn’t exactly the same, but it was close enough that I felt eased. I wrote to the seller, thanked her, and paid the 10 bucks for ground delivery or whatever.

Conveniently for me, the seller lived in Brooklyn. I lived on the Lower East Side, which is really close to Brooklyn. “I come into the city all the time, do you want me to drop it off?” she asked. Why, yes I did. Thank you. See what happens? You close a door and a window opens.

And then sometimes that open window lets in a huge gust of wind. A big fat stupid gust of wind. Because out of all the people in the world, can you guess who the seller of the bikini was?

I spotted her walking up Ludlow Street while I waited on the bench of the Pink Pony. I looked down quickly, pretending I hadn’t seen her. We both knew she was the girl. Yes, that girl. I also noted that she was bigger than me, meaning she could take me down in one punch if she wanted to. When I glanced at her again I noticed the parcel in her hands.

When you know, you know. She smiled and acted all nice, like nothing had ever happened! How dare she? I coldly accepted my replacement vintage 1970s bikini, bade her a good day, sir, and then ran up to my apartment as fast as I could.

Out of all the people in the world to sell me this bikini it was the girl my ex had gone down on. I knew it was a good story the minute I took the goods. All I wanted to do was tell my ex-boyfriend. He would die! We would laugh together and say, “I still love you!” and then snuggle and kiss and be like, “Maybe we can still see each other, but also break up?” The fantasy breakup, which of course never happened.

All I had was his ghost, which he left lingering in my apartment. Not even a stick of sage could get rid of it. I had his shirts hanging in my closet. I smelled them. I had songs he’d downloaded onto my computer. I listened to them. I had drawings he’d put on my fridge, the red dress with the polka dots that he’d wrapped in a garbage bag and left on my bed one afternoon for no reason all. And I had pictures. Too many. I also had a new great story and a new vintage 1970s bikini.

The bikini didn’t even fit. ♦