Fiction

The Water Bends

As if to say ‘let’s start anew’ the water bends then breaks in two and all the while the girl walks through but if not her, well, why not you?

Sasha hadn’t spoken to Bernardo in days. She didn’t want him to think her rude or impertinent or any of those things typically associated with what she’d done but she couldn’t bring herself to write a letter or pick up the phone. Sasha tried—once with a letter and twice with the phone—and each time her pen refused to write, her voice refused to give way to sound.

The only thing she really did with any conviction, in three full, swampy summer days of hitchhiking rides from Mallorcan farmers and plying her legs from sticky, worn car seats that weren’t her own, was escape.

It had been surprisingly easy to leave but much more difficult to figure out where to go. Los Angeles and its bulk of empty canyons and starry sidewalks was a simple thing to turn her back on with a wave of a first-class ticket to the Palma de Mallorca Airport. Except once the wheels of the jet thudded against Spanish ground, Sasha’s mind had become an exasperating kaleidoscope of memories. These shifting, watery recollections from her past carried Sasha, like the magnetic rip-tide of Hollywood itself, wherever it wanted her to be …

To a half-empty street corner on a midnight in Manhattan …

Sasha! Sasha! Your autograph, please? I’m sorry to stop you so late but my daughter loved you in ‘Traveling by Train’ and ‘Moonlight Sonata.’ It would mean the world if you could sign this napkin!

Or to her office in Silver Lake with potted succulents lining every narrow window…

Really, Sasha, be reasonable. You can’t attend the reception at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday and expect to make an appearance at the premier in Switzerland Friday morning. Pick one and we’ll tell them what’s what.

Then to a press junket in Madrid with the peevish fruit fly of an event planner gnawing at her ear …

Ms. Moore, are you listening? The reporter asked about the release date for Inquisitor II and whether you felt this sequel more artistically challenging than the last. It’s not my place to say but no comment is a comment, you know, and we’ve set up a mic specifically so you could speak …

Like a performer entering on cue from stage right, a man had stopped her just as Sasha was dreaming of this life that seemed chiseled from distant yesterdays. As she dreamed she also rambled, away from her arrival gate, toward one end of the colorless airport hallway.

“Stop! Miss, excuse me but wait!” The man’s distinctly British tone had been a welcome change from the whirring noises in her head. She stood, waiting, shivering from the air conditioner fastened to the ceiling above her that sent cold gusts straight down the tip of Sasha’s world-renowned nose.

“Thank you! Thank you for waiting! I’m on my way.” The man had charged somewhat clumsily in her direction, the pitter-patter of his wheeled valise echoing behind the stomping of his feet; he was short but thin and wore glasses that made his eyes buggier than they probably were. When he finally caught up to her, his entire little body seemed to deflate in one long breath. “Sorry. I just had to stop you. Aren’t you … aren’t you Sasha Moore?”

He was hesitant in asking but she didn’t wait to reply.

“No,” Sasha had said in her gruffest voice, a far cry from her well-known, sultry purr.

“Oh,” said the man, narrowing his eyes in a look of uncertainty that said he wasn’t sure what she said was true.

The same scattering of the mind that had caused Sasha’s indecision also prevented her from planning too thoughtful of a disguise: Her hair she tied in a tight bun so its golden color was hard to discern. An Eiffel Tower-embroidered cap she found on her layover in Paris shadowed Sasha’s famously blue eyes. “Vaster than the oceans, darker than the skies,” Bernardo used to say of them. If not her career, at least her agent had a way with words.

“Whoever you are, you do seem lost and I have a car waiting,”  the bespectacled man in the airport told her. “Let me at the very least drive you somewhere.”

Except that was the trick of her entire sojourn because Sasha didn’t want to be driven somewhere, she wanted to be driven nowhere and everywhere at once.

“No, thank you,” Sasha had grumbled and then began her three-day hitchhike to the Mallorcan shore, landing finally at a seven-room motel in a tiny, seaside town of hanging flowers and Baroque archways that she told herself would do.

This morning, with less than an hour of work, she turned herself unrecognizable, transforming from a movie star into a woman whose hair was dyed a dull shade of brown and whose face was caked with layers of foundation and blush. She looked like a stage actress you might have seen in a play once, or a childhood acquaintance whose likeness itched with odd familiarly at the back of your brain.

Take your pick, Sasha thought. Either character would do.

In her haste to leave the city, Sasha only packed a pair of green moccasins, a long, silk robe and a white bathing suit with an orange zipper that ran halfway up the front. She took out the bathrobe and the moccasins and finally, the bathing suit, which, after she shimmied into it, made her feel mysterious and free, a mermaid set to float in any direction she pleased.

The feeling of freedom remained as she found herself walking along the Spanish sea then tip toeing into its lukewarm depths. And there in her beautiful white-and-orange-zippered bathing suit, Sasha closed her eyes and laughed at the water that wiped clean the cheap hair dye and gloppy makeup. Disguise-less, she imagined what Bernardo might say if he could see her now but what did it matter? He was so far away and she was so near and she might not speak to him ever again. With a final laugh, Sasha watched the waves bend then break along the shore and thought about how just like them, this was her chance to start anew.

[This tiny tale was inspired by Aqüe Swimwear, a Spanish lifestyle brand. See more of their 90s-with-a-modern-twist suits here.]

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