A sharp blast of frosty air wafts over my bare shoulder,
and I'm suddenly standing in the painfully bright produce
section of a deserted, but very well-kept grocery store.
Great pyramids of fruit rise up from white metal bases
toward low-hanging fluorescent strips above. Innocuous
Muzak ricochets off the sterile linoleum floors and
envelopes the aisles in a sort of bland brassy cocoon. I
turn left and follow the smell of summer melons to a stand
of cantaloupes. They're so fat and ripe I half expect them
to burst open and blossom like popcorn. I lean over and
inhale deeply--warm and refreshing, with just a hint
I step away from the melons and turn my attention to
another of the massive produce stands. Piled high, in
perfect symmetry, are thousands of bars of soap. They're
oval in shape and individually wrapped in pale blue tissue
paper, making the whole collection look like a mound of
tiny pillows. I step closer and am overwhelmed by the
crisp, tangy aroma of camphor and menthol. Each bar has a
shield-shaped label, attached with a swath of canary yellow
ribbon. The labels read: "Dom Perignon."
It strikes me as odd that the distinguished French winery
would venture into the personal hygiene market when, out of
nowhere, one of the nearby melons begins ringing--a
high-pitched electronic whimper. It goes in rhythmic
spurts, exactly in time with the insipidly spiritless
version of Prince's "Raspberry Beret" blaring over the
loudspeakers. I approach the ringing melon and reach out
to touch it when something occurs to me....
I think I may be dreaming.
I force my eyes to open. The left does just fine,
parting to reveal the blurry but familiar view of my
minuscule bedroom. The right eye, however, seems to be
crusted over with something. Oh, last night's mascara and
eyeliner must have fused. Why is it that if you cry with
this stuff on, it glides effortlessly down your face in
inky streams, but if you sleep in it, you wake up a
Cyclops? One of the great mysteries of life.
With my one functioning eye, I spot the phone on the
bedside table. It continues to whine its annoying chorus,
which, when filtered through my throbbing head, is the
aural equivalent of being stabbed repeatedly with a
spork--not deadly, but ouch.
I instantly recognize the phone number on the caller ID,
it's Ellen. It's also nine-thirty in the morning on New
Year's Day. I've known Ellen since junior high and I don't
think she's ever called me this early.
I reach over and grab the phone, groaning with the
effort. For some reason every muscle in my body seems to
be stiff and sore.
"What's wrong? Are you okay? Did something happen last
night?" I ask as fast as my cotton mouth will move.
"Relax. Nothing's wrong. I had a great time last night."
I heave a sigh of relief and then feel my head begin to
pound. "Do you know what time it is?" I grumble into the
reciever. Disregarding every makeup-removal tip I've ever
learned, I begin to chip away at the matted black clumps on
my right eye.
"Yeah," she replies in her raspiest hangover voice, "I
just wanted to find out what happened."
"What re you talking about?"
"Last night...the party. I caught a glimpse of you at
like nine-thirty, but you disappeared before I could find
you again. And then at, like, twelve-oh-five you left a
message on my voicemail."
"Uh...what did I say?"
"Something like, 'I'm fine. I'm safe. I'll talk to you
"Seriously?" I ask her, perplexed. I reach back into the
dark and murky areas of my mind, digging frantically for
some memory that relates to this event. How can I not
remember that? What is wrong with my head? I can remember
the party. It was huge, elegant, glittering, and
fuzzy--very, very fuzzy. Everything about last night is
out of focus, like I'm looking through a thick pane of
"Ruby?" Ellen poses, concerned. She says something else,
but the sounds of Manhattan, just two floors below, drown
out her voice. The noises are so close...
I sit up in bed--too quickly--all the blood rushes out of
my head and dizziness takes over. A gust of cool air
stings my back.
I turn to ascertain the source of the draft.
The window over my bed is open. Freshly fallen snow
creeps in onto the windowsill. That's strange; why is my
I cradle the phone between my ear and shoulder and slowly
muscle the window closed.
"Ruby?" Are you there? Ruby?" Ellen's tone now borders
on real anxiety.
"I'm here. Sorry. My window was open. I can't
remember--" As I turn back around, a powerful tension
squeezes my chest, and I gasp reflexively from shock.
There is a man in my bed. Sleeping. There is a man
sleeping. In. My. Bed!
He looks familiar, not from last night but from...
somewhere. High school? Work? Some distant relative? Oh
God, that better not be it. No, that can't be it. I can
picture him wearing a bulletproof vest, a shotgun in his
With what little calm I can rally, I whisper into the
phone, "Ellen, I can't talk right now, there's a moviestar
in my bed."
|2012 © Libby Street, Emily S. Morris & Sarah Bushweller Web Design By: Emily S. Morris
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