How to Win by Daisy Johnson

A new short story from the Booker-shortlisted author Daisy Johnson.

e’re here! Bikinis! Tans! Plucked! Waxed! Ready to go! Thirteen days in a villa with nobody but one another.

There’s a smell to the villa that none of us can quite identify, it gets stronger outside on the terrace and then fades away in the bedrooms. We’re too excited to care. There’s A POWER SHOWER. And A DUMB WAITER. And FOUR MINI FRIDGES FILLED WITH ALCOHOL. There is also some kind of tree but we don’t know what kind. Is it a fig tree? The lights in the pool glow red. Our legs beneath the water look speckled and alien. Hester can do handstands. Jake can tie a cherry stalk with his tongue. Barney’s attractively mean. We all fancy Barney. All the bottles in the fridge have their labels scrubbed off. In the screens our faces glow green. The cameras move on metal tracks, following us around. This is the beginning of the end, this is the start of everything. Freddie and Jonas hit it off, decide to couple up. Adele and Leonora have a fight. What time is it?  The moon winks on and off. We don’t know each other but we love each other, we don’t trust anyone. Adele and Leonora stop fighting, decide to couple up, make out on top of the kitchen counter. It’s cold but someone has taken away all our clothes so we have to stay in our swimming costumes. There’s only one bed but it’s big enough for all of us. Martha and Horatio are having sex on the floor in the bathroom. Adele says maybe they’ll send condoms down in the dumb waiter but, though we stand there a long time, none appear.

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