Manifest Destiny (Story by Risa Peris)

She was born in the sea. That’s what her Pa said. Bailey would laugh and curl up in her comforter.

“You tell the funniest stores, Pa.”

As she got older she learned her Ma went out on Pa’s fishing boat when she was eight months pregnant. Pa was down a man due to the flu. Ma said she would help. As they pulled the lobster cages in Ma had contractions.

“The baby is coming early,” she yelled. Pa took her below deck and she was born. She was reluctant to breathe but Pa got her going. Ma died and Pa cried. He took their little body, Bailey, to the hospital.

Bailey grinned at the story. She left home at seventeen when a boy took both her virginity and her pride. Turns out he was screwing nearly everyone in their small town of Maine.

Pa gave her some money and she went out. Her destination was Los Angeles. She made it in five months hitching rides, letting truckers have their way with her, and flirting to get meals.

LA was bright, crowded, not really beautiful but not ugly. She figured she’d use her last money for headshots. She went to auditions. Cried, laughed, acted seriously. One casting agent asked her where was born.

Bailey said, “The sea.”

“I don’t see it in you.” The casting agent dismissed her.

Bailey worked at a burger shop and found an apartment with three other people. Each one tried to be out as much as possible so as to avoid each other.

This is paradise, isn’t it? Bailey asked the same question every night. This is paradise.

She didn’t understand paradise was not a place but a state of mind. God meant for Americans to go out West. That’s what she learned in high school. But the West was tamed, gilded, and full of rubbish too. It was a bad deal auditioning for roles. But she kept doing it. At night, she dreamed of the sea and only the wilds of the water calmed her mind.

Go back to the sea, a voice whispered. But she could not turn her back on the Manifest Destiny that drove her West. The seas will rise, gurgle, gurgle, and the seas will recede and there will still be the Hollywood sign on the hills and her dreams will multiply. One day she will get that part. One day. Welcome to LA. The last outpost of the American Dream.


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