The Pacific Ocean shimmers under the unremitting midday sun. From my lounger on the beach, I can see a sailboat, still and serene, up on the horizon. A gull wheels in the breezeless blue sky.
How long have I been lying here? Come to think of it, how many days have I been at the resort? How many weeks? I can’t remember arriving. Not sure when I’m supposed to be leaving, either.
Jesus. Time to lay off the margaritas.
I’m pretty certain than I’m in Hawaii. Which island, though? My thoughts are pieces of paper, whirling in a vortex, just out of reach of my grasping hands. I’m dimly aware that this is not normal, this failure to recall such basic facts. At the same time, I care little. I am at peace. I have this beach, the sea, and the sun warming me. What more do I need?
The shape of a woman materialises to my left, and I turn lazy eyes towards her. She works for the hotel, I think. I’ve seen her before.
“You’re awake,” she says.
“Didn’t realise I’d dozed off,” I say, and I am startled by the sound of my own voice: sluggish and thick. My tongue feels huge in my mouth.
“How do you feel?”
“Not sure. Should get out of the sun, probably.” I lift my head as a precursor to getting up off the lounger, and a rising tide of nausea forces me back down.
“You need to take it easy,” she says. “It’s a big day.”
“Oh?” I haven’t the faintest idea what she’s talking about. I search my foggy thoughts and come back empty-handed.
“Remember? Your grandson is going to be here this afternoon. He’s flown a long way.”
I shake my head, prompting a fresh wave of sickness. I let it pass before answering. “Grandson? Miss, I’m 19 years old. I don’t even have a son, let alone a grandkid.”
“Whatever you say.” Her tone is kindly, and she is smiling sympathetically at me.
“Look, something’s wrong,” I say, struggling to force out the words. “I feel terrible, and I think I’ve been here too long, and I just need to leave and go home, and then everything will be okay.” The last words blurted out in a final rush of energy.
She reaches down and strokes my hair. “What you need to do is rest.”
I want to go on protesting, but I don’t have the strength. Rest. Yes. If I get some more sleep, maybe my head will be clearer when I wake up. I can figure out what’s what. Sleep first, though. That’s what I need to do.
I close my eyes and let the darkness take me.
***Before leaving the room, the nurse scrawls a note on a chart and checks the morphine drip. On the wall opposite the bed, a painting hangs: the Pacific Ocean, shimmering under the unremitting midday sun.