A bright light forces my eyes open, blinding me in the process. As I lift my arm to shield my eyes, my entire face is suddenly wet.
“What the fuck?” I groan to myself in my half asleep state. I realize it isn’t just my face that’s wet, but my whole body. My once light grey long sleeve shirt is now dark grey saturated with…well I don’t know exactly. I bring my arm to my nose and take a sniff. I smell the beach. “When the hell did I go to the beach?!” I screamed out as I sit up in my wet bed.
“Rose, are you all right in here?” I look up and see my roommate closing the red door of my room behind her. I just sit there looking at her, at a loss for words. No, I’m not alright, but guessing by the wrinkles forming in her forehead as she raises her eyebrows at me, she already knows that. Being the amazing friend and roommate that she is, Cleo doesn’t bombard me with questions right away but patiently stands at the foot of my bed waiting for my response. That’s what I liked about Cleo; she never asks too many questions and knows when to back off and give me some space. She traces the black lace detailing her delicate pink silk pajamas as she gives me some much needed time to process whatever the hell is going on right now.
“I’m okay, I think. I just don’t know what’s happening, or what happened to me last night. As you can see, I’m soaked and I have no idea how it happened, but it smells like salt water and fish.”
“The beach is a four hour drive from here and you don’t even have a car. How did you even get there?” Cleo asks as she sits across from me on my bed. She makes a good point. I don’t have a car anymore since it got totaled last week by some idiot who fell asleep behind the wheel. The only good thing about that entire situation was that I wasn’t in my car when it happened, it was just parked on the street outside our apartment.
“I have no idea. I’ve been bumming rides off of you while the insurance company figures out whatever they need to figure out so I can get a new car. If you didn’t drive me there, I’m just as lost as you are.”
“You really don’t remember anything? How do you not remember a four-hour car ride? I know you aren’t exactly known for your fantastic memory, Rose, but I mean, come on.”
“Dude, I’m telling you, I have no idea. I don’t remember going to a beach or getting wet in the process. Even when I do go to the beach I never go in the water because it’s always so dirty. Hell, I don’t even remember coming home! Why did I get into my bed with drenched clothes? And if you didn’t take me to the beach, who the hell did? I have just as many questions as you do Cleo,” I exclaim as I climb out of bed and begin pacing back and forth trying to piece my memory back together.
“Well, what’s the last thing you do remember?” she asks, her impatience with me starting to show. Cleo never did like how I can’t seem to remember even the most basic things at times. Forgetting things is unfortunately something I’m known for. Forgetting to return calls and texts, forgetting my keys and locking myself out, forgetting lunch plans I made a week prior, and even forgetting important dates like birthdays and anniversaries. Yet while my memory hasn’t exactly been perfect in the past, it’s never been this bad. Not to the point where I’m missing hours of my memory.
“The last thing I remember? Hmmmm, the last thing I remember…” I try to answer her as I rub my forehead. Maybe if I rub long enough a genie will pop out of my brain and magically give me my memory back. As I’m rubbing my head my shirt touches my face again and it smells as though I’m being slapped with a rotting fish.
“I have no idea, Cleo, but before I can even think about what the hell happened to me I need to get this ocean stink off of me and into some dry clothes.” As soon as I say this Cleo pops straight up out of my bed like I pushed some emergency eject button I didn’t know I had.
“No, yeah, of course you’d want to shower. What was I thinking? I was about to put in a load of towels. I can add your sheets in for you so they don’t smell like fish anymore,” Cleo offers. I slowly crawl out of my bed and stand up, my head aches in the process.
I look down at my bed, grateful that Cleo is willing to help me out. The smell of salt and fish is making me nauseous. My sky blue sheets have a dark splotch in the middle from where I was lying. My teal blanket strewn across the wood flooring is still dry though, so at least that doesn’t reek of fish stink.
“Cleo, you’re a goddess, you know that?” I say to her as I shift my gaze from the various shades of blues of my bed to her adorable freckled face looking back at me with those emerald green eyes of hers. She was effortlessly gorgeous but could never see it for herself the way I see it everyday.
“Rose, quit sweet-talking me and get in the shower,” she said as she started stripping the sheets off of my bed, but not before I saw her blushing at my goddess comment.
The hot water covers me as I go face first into the stream of water needling from the showerhead. As I rub shampoo into my hair, I think of what could have possibly happened to me that I can’t remember a four-hour trip to the beach. Four hours there and back would mean I have a minimum of 8 hours missing from my brain, and that thought alone terrifies me. This is the perfect crime, really. I don’t remember a damn thing, so what would I even tell the police? No cop would even take me seriously if I tried to make a report. I lean back into the stream of hot water and rinse out my hair while pushing all the worst-case scenarios out of my head and trying to focus on something, anything else instead. I wonder what Cleo would say once I got out of the shower, and if she’s still in those sexy pink lace pajamas.
Once out of the shower, I look in the mirror and examine myself, looking for any clues. I notice a few fresh bruises on my arms and look down to see my knees are a little scratched and bruised too. I look up into the mirror again and realize I’m not standing still anymore, but my hands are shaking and my face is growing pale. I throw on my robe and open the bathroom door, letting the steam from my shower escape the bathroom into the hallway as I make my way to the living room. As I turn the corner, I see Cleo, sadly no longer in pajamas, sitting on the couch laughing with our friend Kristen.
“What are you two laughing about?” I ask, trying to play it cool and not let my fear show.
“I came by to check on you after last night to make sure you were doing okay since things got a little crazy.”
“I was with you last night?!” I exclaim as I sit next to Cleo on the couch.
“Kristen has a video that will answer all of your questions.” Cleo presses play on Kristen’s phone and I lay on Cleo’s shoulder to get a better view of the screen.
There I am front and center of the video in some giant house taking shots.
“Are you having fun, Rose!? I told you it would do you some good to get out of the house!” Kristen shouts from behind the camera. I take another shot, my smile beaming.
“Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you get to take videos of me like you’re the paparazzi!” I say as I lunge forward, trying to wrestle the camera out of Kristen’s hands.
“Oh come on, we’re just having fun! Besides, your new blue hair looks really good on camera, Rose! I bet Cleo would think you look pretty hot right now.”
“SHUT UP, KRISTEN!!” I yell at her, reaching for the phone again, but she turns just in time. I look up at Cleo to see her reaction to the video only to see her blushing.
“Okay! I’m sorry, I’ll stop, but you do look good! You look like a mermaid! And you have the perfect backdrop right now!” As Kristen says this, I turn around to see a giant fish tank with eels, a pufferfish, and even a clownfish.
“I want to be a real mermaid!” I scream, obviously drunk. I run as well as any drunk person could towards the tank. Then, climbing onto a nearby table that is being used for food, I jump into the tank. Once submerged, I wave at the party guests through the glass, as giant air bubbles escape my nostrils and blue hair flows in the water. My time being a mermaid is cut short by two big security guards pulling me out of the tank by my arms. The video ends.
For once in my life I’m speechless and don’t even know how to react. After laughing some more, Kristen explains that she has to leave for work and she’s happy I’m doing all right after my “sea adventure.” Cleo and I are now alone on the couch. I can feel my face getting red; unable to even look up. Sensing my embarrassment, Cleo puts her arm around me and says,
“It’s okay, Rose. At least we know what happened now! Nothing horrific, you just wanted to be a mermaid!” she says. I felt her fingers cupping my chin, raising my face to gaze into her shining emerald eyes.