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Chapter Three




“Okay, I understood that our rooms may be next to each other, but connected together?!”

“Pipe down, Busty, I didn’t want this, either.”

I stand in Room 319 with Parker glaring up at me with crossed arms.  

“Why connected?” I say.  

“Beats me,” Parker mutters.  “This better not last long.  I don’t think I’m going to appreciate a dweeb as my neighbor.”  

I groan put my suitcase on the single bed with a thud.  The sheets have sailboats on a blue background with white-tipping waves along the bottom of the boat as if the sailboat is in freeze frame.  The pillows are blue and white.  The center pillow, about the size of my head, has a blue-green and white fish taking up most of the length.

Parker rolls his suitcase to his room and slams the door shut with as much might as a kid can have.  I fall backwards onto the bed and watch the clock nearby tick away.  Not even one minute of this and I’m beat.  

Suddenly, the white door opens and reveals my mom.  She smiles and walks over to me.  

“You like it?” she asks.  I nod.  “Isn’t that little boy Parker adorable?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I say.  She giggles like a giddy child.  “Where’s your room, by the way?”

“It’s Number 307 and Mr. Joel is 309, sweetie.  Oh, don’t let a young child bring you down, Riff.  He’s only... what, nine or ten years old?  My goodness, and he still has some baby fat.  Maybe his parents spoil him…,” Mom rambles.  “Maybe they feed him too much…”

“Mom,” I interrupt.  “I could care less about the little jerk.  I just want this boat ride to be over so we can avoid him.”  She sighs and pushes a strand of rose-colored hair behind my ear.  

“This hair, Riff...,” she mumbles.  “Later in a half hour we’re going to the spa center and we’re getting the whole nine yards done, you hear me?  There’s going to be an entertainment event tonight on the main front of the ship.  I want you to look nice.  You know, maybe find a—”

“Mom.  No,” I groan.  “Life is not about boys for me.  Right now, I just want to have more friends like Sasha and Ashley.”  Mom studies me and backs away to the door.  

“If you say so,” she replies.  “But remember, half an hour and then go downstairs to the spa, okay?”  She walks out and shuts the door behind her.

A tuft of brown pokes out from my bathroom door and peeks into my room.  


“Is that crazy woman gone?” he asks.  

“Hey, that ‘crazy woman‘ you speak of is my mom.  But yes, she’s gone,” I answer.  His visible brown eye looks at me and frowns.  

“You don’t look anything like her, by the way,” he comments.  

“Good job, smart one.  You don’t think I’ve noticed that before?  I look more like my dad, of course.  He had reddish-brown hair and my color eyes,” I explain.  

“But your hair is... ugly,” Parker’s oddly deep voice permeates my ears.

“Gee, thanks,” I say.  “But I’m apparently getting it cut today, so it will probably look better afterwards.”  I wipe my hand over my slightly sweaty forehead.  “It’s hot in here.”

“I guess I should leave, then,” says Parker before shutting my bathroom door and going to his room.



X  X  X  X



“Stupid kid,” I mutter as I enter the spa and salon named:


 Franky’s Spa and Hair Salon: Beautify and More.


The door opens with a bell signaling my arrival.  Another red headed woman steps up, but her hair is the color of an orange flame.  She wears a revealing black halter top with white skinny jeans and black stilettos.  The diamond earrings show her confidence and spunk. 

“Welcome,” the young woman greets.  “My name’s Francesca, but you may call my Franky.  Are you Riff Foster?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I answer.  Franky laughs and shakes my hand, her long manicured fingernails a romantic red.

“Please, don’t call me ma’am, it makes me feel old!” she exclaims.  “Just call me by my name, Riff.”  She leads me to a massage chair that has a small, shiny tub in front of it.  “Your mom told me all of what I need to do to upgrade this look.”

“Oh…  Really?” I say.  Franky nods.

“So!  First on the list: nails.  Fingers and toes, all twenty of ‘em!” Franky announces and plops me down.  She takes off my flip flops and places them beside the chair and pulls up a rolling stool.  She starts the tub and slips my feet inside as hot water pours into it.  She hands me a folded sheet of paper.

I unfold it carefully; it reveals a thousand or more different colors of nail polish.  I mentally gape in awe of all my options.

“So, what color do you like best?” asks Franky.  I blink and go over the first row of pictures once more.  All different types of blues, pinks, reds, and greens.  “Ooh, I know!” she exclaims, rising from her seat and power walking to the nail polish rows along the wall.  She grabs a light pink and baby blue and hurries over to my chair.  

She picks up a tub of supplies and places the two nail polish colors in the small holder in the orange supply holder.  She rinses my feet off, scrubs them, and soon is painting my toes.  

Franky paints my big toe, second, third, and pinky toe with the pink and paint the fourth toe baby blue on my left foot.  She does the same with the right foot.  On my hands, she does the same color idea, painting every finger but my ring fingers pink.  

“Now, you gotta sit here and let these babies dryyyy,” Franky sings.  “I’ll be back in a few minutes.  I gotta help another customer real quick.”  She struts off with her stilettos clicking on the floor as she does.  I study my nails intently, checking for the tiniest mistake, but I find none.  

“Let go of me, lady!” an irritated voice shouts from somewhere close to the entrance of the salon.  I see a woman hugging close to her body an unusually small boy with messy brown hair.

Parker.  And my mom.

“Can’t you hear me, lady?  Release me!” Parker shouts, unable to move his arms as my mom squeezes him tightly.  My mom wears a fuzzy pink robe and a pink towel around her shoulders.  She grins and holds Parker tighter.  

“You know, you’re so adorable!  And you’re the size of the teddybear I bought for Riff when she was seven!” exclaims Mom.  “Can I steal you from Joel?” 

“Let me go!  I’ll call security!” Parker threatens.  I lean down in my chair.  I do not know this woman.  Parker struggles in her grasp.  

“Ms. Foster, they’re ready for you in the back.  Oh, and please don’t bring that little boy into the girl’s massage area,” an employee calmly tells Mom.  She frowns and dramatically sobs, holding Parker so close his face turns purple.

“But I loooove this adorable boooy!  I don’t ever want to leave him!” cries Mom.  Parker shouts in pain.  

“Let me go or so help me—!” Parker squeaks.  Then, out of nowhere, a bulky security guard pries my mom’s arms off of Parker and he brushes off his clothes.  Parker frowns-slash-glares at Mom while the employee from before escorts her to the back.  

Franky returns and carefully stands me up from the chair and brings me to the east side of the room where their are mirrors and chairs and everything set for a hair salon.  She takes me to the one closest to the back.  I stare at the blue and white walls as she prepares the equipment.  “How much are we taking off, eh, Riff?” Franky questions.

“Um…,” I say, “I actually didn’t want my hair cut.  But my mom probably said for you to do this, didn’t she?”

“Yeah,” answers Franky.  She clicks the scissors and observes the sharpness of the blades.  “I think… since it’s so long… let’s go about upper back, past your shoulders.”  I drop my head.  

“Oh…,” I whisper.  “That’s so short.”  

“Yeah, but cut hair grows really quickly.”

“You sure?”


“Well,” I say.  “…Okay.”  Franky smiles and put the drape over me.  She sprays water on my hair and starts snipping.



X  X  X  X




“You like it?”

“Well, it’s certainly prettier than I thought it would be.”

I turn my head and stare at my reflection’s new look.  Franky had done… a fantastic job.  My newly cut hair now ended at my shoulder blades.  She clipped the front of my hair and gave me bangs that part from the middle and frame my cheek bones.  There are short locks that end just past my chin.  

“You look great!” Franky exclaims, putting away the scissors.  “You’re hair is really... different than other people’s.  I like it, though.”  She sweeps up the old, stiff hair on the ground into a dust pan and strides over to the shiny, platinum-like trash can.  “How do you get it that rose color?”

“I...,” I begin.  “I can’t really tell you because I don’t exactly know.  I think it...”  I pause.  I think it turned dark and sad like my life, I finish.  “I think it’s because of how little sun I’ve gotten.”

“Oh,” Franky replies.  I avert my eyes to the polished tile floor.  Saying something like what I thought is not wise.  It would make this whole trip... worse.

“You know who else I have on my checklist for the day?” she continues.  

“My mom?” I ask.

“Well, her, too, but that little boy that she brought in earlier.”  She picks up a clipboard and flips a page over the top.  She grabs her blue pen and writes a check mark over something on the paper.  “What’s his name…,” she whispers.  “Oh, here he is.  Parker Mathews.  Small little fella, isn’t he?”  

“I guess,” I say.  Not to mention he’s a pain in the butt, I add to myself.  “Does it have his age on there?”

Franky laughs.  “Afraid not, Riff,” she says.  I nod to myself as Franky unhooks the drape and pulls it away.  “Go ahead and stand up, check your new look out some more.”  

Once again, I look to the mirror.  I find myself studying my image yet again.  It’s a different Riff on the outside.  On the inside, maybe not so much.  Franky smiles at my inquisitive expression and continues sweeping.  On her desk, I see a clear bag that contains long blonde locks.  Another bag is next to it, that one holding black hair.  On top of that one, another bag of blonde hair.

“Franky,” I say.  “What’s up with all those bags of hair?”  She halts mid-sweep, glances at the bags, then at me.  

“What?  …Those?” she says slowly.  I nod.  

“Yeah.  Those.”

“Donations.  Some people want their hair cut so we can make wigs,” she explains.  

“Oh.  I see,” I whisper.  She nods and give a small smile.  “Okay…  Well, I’m gonna… go.”

“You can’t!” Franky suddenly cries.  “You haven’t gotten your massage yet.  Why don’t you come with me to the back and I’ll get you ready.”  She pushes a strand of orange hair behind her ear and clampers down the room and into the massage room.  The curtain swoops behind her as she enters the room.

“Weird,” I mumble.  I brush off my shirt and follow after her, my feet barely making a sound against the floor.  I pass other ladies getting their nails done and push the curtain aside.  I enter the massage room with a silent fwoosh behind me.

The lights are dim.  Lanterns are lit above the massage bed, candles flicker in the corners.  Franky prepares a table next to the bed and gestures that I lay on the prepared bed.  

“There’s a blanket to cover yourself with in the dressing room,” she says.  “Come back when you’re ready.”


X  X  X  X


When I return with only the blanket covering me, Franky stands next to the massage bed with a serious look in her eyes.  It frightens me.  

“What’s wrong?” I ask quietly.  “You look mad…”  

“Oh, no, sorry, it’s just my focusing face,” Franky answers.  She motions to the bed and I walk over.  I carefully lay on my stomach, checking the blanket to make sure it completely cover me from the shoulders down, and patiently wait.  I feel tense; it may be just a massage, but it’s uncomfortable without having something covering you other than a sheet.

Franky begins on my upper back, adding a heavy pressure in between my shoulder blades.  I almost sigh with content, but I manage to keep it to myself.  As she massages me, I notice a peculiar looking flower in a brown pot on a shelf.  Its petals are pink with blue spots and a blue rim around the tip.  Its width is about a half-foot long, its stem is about two inches thick and a deep green color.  A faint, sweet aroma fills the air.  I grow light headed.

“What’s that flower over there?” I ask weakly.  

“You know, I’m not sure what it’s called.  You wanna see it, though?”

“Yes, please.”

Franky stops the massage session and walks casually over to the dark wood shelf.  She carefully picks up the pot and carries it over.  The smell grows stronger.  It is sweet and thick, almost overbearing.  

“Why don’t you smell it?  It’s smells divine,” Franky says with a soft hint in her voice, as if mesmerized by the plant.  The colorful petals catch my complete attention.  I grab the pot and inhale.

And the world around me goes black.





















Submitted: March 05, 2014

© Copyright 2023 R Anonymous. All rights reserved.


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