Elizabeth stirred from her nap as the curtains burst apart to let a beam of light in. The wind made the room chillier than she had expected, so she quickly roused herself out of sleepiness and made for the double doors that led to the balcony.
After closing them she glanced around the hotel room. She hadn’t had the opportunity to really appreciate it since arriving in Cancun a couple hours before. It had great light, a cheerful bright blue color on the wall, and no lack of luxurious details sprinkled about. She had chosen well.
Unlike most people Elizabeth chose to vacation alone. Her work week consisted of luncheons, fundraisers, art shows, teas, and contrived parties. All of which involved her smiling without feeling. It was all very exhausting. She looked forward to the times of year when a smile would creep upon her like a happy surprise.
But Elizabeth spent most of her vacations without expression of any kind. She didn’t interact with others except for common courtesies, and avoided any sort of activity particularly stimulating. The events she regularly attended taxed her senses, and she preferred them dulled while away at some tropical destination. Only the distant sound of the ocean and rays of sunlight encasing her skin in a heavenly glow were acceptable.
When not at the beach, Elizabeth dined quietly within view of it. She used to believe in drinking alone on these occasions, but the drunkenness had more often than not brought robust, unpleasant emotions to the surface that she rather ignore. Her lifestyle distracted her, which is why she pursued it to the ridiculous degree that she did considering how much she detested the human race. But on vacation the distractions ceased, and she was still trying to find other means of occupying her mind away from wicked thoughts.
Elizabeth found driving to be therapeutic. So she asked at the front desk for a nice route for a couple hour excursion. She glided to her car, anticipating the beautiful sights to be seen and the resulting relief from her mind. Drawing a deep breath, Elizabeth put the car into drive and exhaled as she pulled out of the parking lot onto the main drag of the Zona Hotelera.
She drove cautiously and with ease past all of the bustling hotels teeming with tourists. The restaurants and bars seemed to be spewing brightly clothed people into the sun-soaked outdoors. Twice Elizabeth had to slow the car to allow a drunk or two scamper across the wide roadway to the beach, but she wasn’t perturbed. These people enjoyed their type of vacation, and she enjoyed hers.
Once outside of the Zona Hotelera, Elizabeth really started appreciating the scenery. The greenery that seemed endless made her wish disappear into it; she liked imagining walking deep into the thicket, and never having to return. But she kept driving, further and further away from the obnoxious city until she was quite certain she’d see no one but farmers.
The drive proved to be worthy. There were no rolling hills, but the ocean was nearly always visible. That beautiful blue of the water was often used at the events she attended and worn by the ladies in her circle; it really was “Cancun Blue”. She was certain she had a swimsuit of the same color somewhere, and in that moment she was inspired to find it, such was the majesty of this blue expanse.
Elizabeth decided she would stop for a bit, just to sit on the hood of her rental car and breathe in the salty, sea breeze. She had brought a small camera to document her excursion, her acquaintances back home needed documentation of her visit to believe she had actually gone alone. There was a running joke amongst her crowd that she had an exotic prince hidden somewhere that she would visit when on these “solitary” vacations. They couldn’t believe someone as beautiful as Elizabeth could keep the men at bay, and not revel in luring them. Such is what they would do, if they had her overwhelming beauty. But of course there was no one, and there never would be anyone. Elizabeth had never decided against romance, she simply had never been interested. She was surrounded by people all day and most nights. The last thing she wanted to do was return home to find yet another person, demanding her undivided attention and affection.
After taking the required photos, for which she chose not to bluntly smile, she leapt down from the hood of her car and walked into the tall grasses. She had brought a book to read, the book of the month for her book club that she attended back in the city. It was another dull title about a woman who had dealt with misgivings, usually in the form of a “no-good-man”. Elizabeth tired of this dialogue, and had recommended that the group read something different, perhaps an adventure story, fantasy, or science fiction. They never heeded her advice however; they were interested in but one story, the story of the Common Woman. She found this odd however, considering none of them were Common Women. These women had chauffeurs, nannies, hair appointments, wine cellars, yachts, and summer homes in the Hamptons. None of them would have an issue affording a child, paying back loans, or getting the best healthcare available. It all seemed rather shallow. They just wanted to make themselves feel less guilty for the affluence they had been raised with and married into. Elizabeth doubted any of them would actually answer the call of a “Common Woman”.
After laying in the grass for some time, Elizabeth sat up and saw that the sun was going down. I must have dozed, she thought to herself. She stood quickly and brushed off the skirt of her dress. As she was turning to her car she thought she saw a figure out of the corner of her eye. She quickly turned toward the figure, but found nothing. Just the grasses she had been admiring all day. A bit spooked, she approached her car and got in. She took a moment to drink from her Evian bottle, and realized she was quite dehydrated, and growing hungrier by the minute. Silly, she thought to herself, that silly book put me to sleep all day.
Elizabeth turned the ignition and pulled out onto the empty road. She did not appreciate the landscape nearly as much at night. Everything seemed ghoulish and foul, like the landscape was lusting after her flesh. The uneasiness gave her goosebumps, so she turned on the radio to cheer herself. The only station she could find all the way out there was a mariachi station that seemed to be playing the same song over and over again. For some reason, this gave her an even more sinister feeling, so she shut off the radio with a flick of her wrist and settled into the silence, trying to gain control over her nerves.
She drove another mile before glimpsing a figure down the road. It seemed human, but it was too far away to tell. Please, let it be cattle, Elizabeth begged. To much her consternation she recognized a human form as she drew nearer, and whoever it was walking alongside the road had no light, and was miles from any residence that she could tell. Yet their stride was easy, confident. Well, they’re not in distress, she thought. I can just pass them by and leave them to their wandering. But something told her that this person would not let her pass without a greeting. Was it that their pace seemed to slow upon seeing the headlights from her car? Or was it something else?
The figure turned around briskly as she neared and held up a solitary hand. It was a commanding gesture, and Elizabeth didn’t like it one bit. She was offended by this person, which looked to be a middle aged man, native to Mexico, abruptly putting a hand in the air to command her to do something. Elizabeth did not reciprocate the gesture and did not slow down. She felt herself pressing on the gas pedal harder, and her face unconsciously pulled into a frown. Elizabeth felt the rage coursing through her, at having her vacation ruined by this strange man on this empty road. The emptiness belonged to her, and he was violating it. These were the thoughts running through her head as she swerved her car at the last moment, thrashing into the solitary man who had stopped walking at the side of the road.
Elizabeth’s rental came to a screeching halt as she slammed on the breaks.
After a few minutes of heavy breathing, Elizabeth stepped out of her car and looked back at the road. The man was no longer standing there, violating her passage. She got back into her car, reversed onto the road, and continued on her trek to the Zona Hotelera.
Once inside the parking lot to her resort, she got gracefully out of her car and wandered up to her suite. In the shower, she put the water on scalding hot, and scrubbed the sand and salt from her hair and face. She dressed for dinner, and went to the dining room of the resort with the best view of the ocean. She cut apart her chicken, savoring the delicate spices and seasoning, and sipped on a glass of white wine.
After dinner Elizabeth retired to her room. She tried putting on the TV, but the noise only agitated her, so she shut it off and floated out to the balcony. Clouds had rolled in, covering what stars there were to be seen. So she sat on the chaise lounge, and gazed up into the darkness. She had never felt so alone, and it was lovely. Elizabeth wept tears of joy.