It’s summer! And what better way to celebrate friendship and financial anxiety than a trip to the beach?
Clad in their finest swimwear, India, Brazil, and South Africa stood firmly in a line on the deck and waited for Russia to speak, like they were soldiers awaiting orders.
“On this trip, everyone will be wearing protection at all times.” Russia’s voice was commanding as she wielded a bottle of sunscreen in her hand like it was a sword. “I don’t care if you ‘don’t burn.’ The sun is evil and it will kill you.” The other women jumped at the force behind Russia’s accusation. “Now, who wants to rub lotion all over my back?” India threw up her hand.
Once everyone was coated in radiation repellent, Russia broke into the cooler. “Now, before we head to the beach, Mommy needs a little drinkie.” No more than three seconds later was she throwing back a mouthful of vodka.
“Look at them, China.” Russia reclined in a beach chair, pina colada resting between her fingers.
“I told you not to speak to me.” No one liked being interrupted while they were trying to nap, China least of all.
“Such precious little economies,” she continued, looking out to the water as the girls set up for a game of volleyball. “Such potential.”
China pulled his sunglasses down to give her a look. “Russia, India’s GDP is almost twice yours.”
She sipped her cocktail and conveniently ignored him. “Want to join their game?”
“Why are you here?” Russia didn’t wait for an answer. “India begged me not to invite you, but you know how I am. Too much compassion and sympathy in my heart.”
China hesitated. “Money. I need to be at the center of it all. It’s essential to assuring the peaceful transition of economic power from West to East.”
“Poor Brazil, stuck in the wrong hemisphere.”
“Poor Brazil, indeed. She won’t be able to catch up to the rest of us, at the rate she’s–”
Just then a stray, inflatable ball flew at China so fast he didn’t have time to react before it smacked him right in the face and knocked his shades off. He made a noise he’d later feel embarrassed about before gaping at the culprit while Russia started cackling.
“I’m so sorry!” India repeated in a voice much more concerned and much more apologetic than she actually felt.
Two jet skis sped along the ocean as festive Portuguese party music blasted through the air. Sat behind Russia, India turned to the other and shouted above Brazil’s portable radio.
“Russia, I just, um… I want to thank you for being a good friend to me. No matter what happens between the West and I, I won’t discard your feelings.”
“Oh, you’re so sweet!”
“I didn’t want you to feel like I’d ever abandon you, even if your economy is weak and you’re isolated from other global powers because you’re so unpopular.”
Russia’s lip curled before she smiled. “Thank you, India.”
“Hey,” Brazil said as she pulled up beside them on her own water jet, “where’s South Africa?”
India and Russia stole a glance backward to see that the woman who’d been speeding along behind them was now nowhere to be seen. They looked but didn’t even see a swimming capped head bobbing out among the waves. They didn’t see fins circling a pool of blood, either, so that was a good sign. Probably.
Back at the dock, Brazil turned down her music and frowned. “Hey… do you think I’m doing alright?”
“What do you mean?” asked Russia.
Brazil frowned more intensely. “2015 was bad.” Her eyebrows arched. “2016 was bad. I’m always smiling, but really I feel like I’m barely hanging in.”
India awwed and Russia said, “Oh, sweetie! Listen, we all go through recessions. We all have rough years. Don’t worry. You’ll pull through.”
Brazil opened her mouth to probably say something optimistic when, suddenly, a mermaid sprang out from the water with a massive gasp of air and scared the shit out of them. Wait, no, that was just South Africa. Either way, there was screaming.
Back at the cottage, they found China in a compromising position. Which is to say, passed out on the table.
Brazil laughed. “Someone hit the booze a little too hard.”
India inched over to poke him just to see if he was still alive, but stopped herself and grimaced a little. “I don’t want to touch him.”
Russia swatted the air. “Leave him be.”
Ignoring China like they had been the entire day, the girls unwound with drink, music, and conversation. After awhile, South Africa called for attention.
“Ladies, ladies. First, I want to say that I feel very blessed today. Blessed because I didn’t drown, even though it came close. Too close.” The other three looked away sheepishly. “But really, I want to dedicate this weekend to us. While we have all experienced adversity and challenges in our journeys to become rich and powerful, we are a determined and resilient group and I know that we all have the potential to soar to the highest heights.”
Brazil raised her glass and hiccuped. “I just want everyone to know that I hosted the Olympics. The Olympics!”
South Africa nodded at her, just to be polite, then said, “Now, let’s drink to prosperity, friendship, and the future!”
They each let out a whoop, then heard a startling thud as a still conked out China fell out of the chair and landed on the floor.
BRICS is, obviously, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It’s an association of regionally influential countries that are supposed to have emerging, fast-growing economies and lots of potential. They’ve been having annual meetings since 2001 where I guess they talk about economic development, trade, global issues, and probably infrastructure.
I know that the Indian flag on the volleyball is missing the Ashoka Chakra. It was intentional for the sake of keeping the drawing simplistic.