This couldn’t be happening to me! Not a former lifeguard who had spent her teen years at the pool, slathered in baby oil. Granted, that was in Canada, where the summer sun may not have been as intense. Still, having a reaction to the sun here just didn’t seem feasible.
Sandy looked down at her arms and legs. There we small, angry
red blisters forming on the tops of both legs where her cotton shorts met her
skin. Both forearms showed similar blisters. Reaching her left hand to her
right forearm, Sandy gently moved the tips of her fingers over the raised skin.
Her fingers were cool to the touch, but the mere action of grazing the affected
skin, left Sandy wanting to scratch off the top layer.
“I think I’m going to have to get out of the sun for a while,
Fran,” Sandy said mournfully, not even looking over at her best friend. Without
looking up from, her book, Fran, replied “uh-huh.” They sat there on the beach
for another 5 minutes - Sandy silently tracing the dots on her arm with her
index finger and Fran engrossed in her latest mystery novel.
“Fran, it’s time to go.” Sandy had stated this a bit louder than
intended, but she was starting to feel blisters on the tops of her ears and
shoulders now. Fran looked at Sandy, puzzled by the sharp tone of her friend’s
request. They were on holiday for the first time in almost a year. This was
their time to relax and enjoy not having to adhere to a schedule.
Sandy turned to her friend and held her arms out. The initial
patch of red dots on Sandy’s right arm had become a mass of small clear
bubbles, stretching from the crease by her elbow to about an inch above her
“Wow, that’s cool Sandy, how’d you do that? It looks like you
stuck your arm in a sink full of soap bubbles!” exclaimed Fran. Fran was fully
engaged now, the novel falling to the towel, forgotten as she studied the marks
on Sandy’s arm.
“I didn’t DO this. Something else did.” Sandy replied woefully. “And
it seems to be getting worse with the heat. I need to go back to the
air-conditioned room. Now.”
“Okay. No problem. We can stop at the desk on our way and see if
the hotel doctor has anything to help you.” Fran said cheerfully. “I'm sure
those nasty blisters will be gone soon, and you'll be alright in no time!"
The two friends gathered up their beach belongings, slipped into
their sandals, and made their way across the sand toward the hotel lobby.
Switching her towel from her forearm to her shoulder, Sandy tried desperately
to avoid anything rubbing on the afflicted skin.
"It's so itchy now," Sandy whined. Fran didn't look at
her friend. She didn't want to let on that she was concerned with how quickly
the blisters were spreading. Instead, Fran responded, "Look, we are almost
there, and we'll get you checked."
Just as they reached the edge of the stone walkway to the hotel
lobby, a gigantic double-decker tour bus pulled up in front of the glass doors.
The air brakes let out a decided 'whoosh' sound as the engine came to a stop.
"Oh no. If we don't get in front of this group, we will
have to wait forever to talk to the people at the desk." Sandy said.
"Well, we will just have to get there first, Sandy, so run!" Fran
took off before she even completed the sentence.
"I'm coming, Fran, but it really hurts to walk, let alone
run. You go ahead. I'll catch up." Sandy yelled as Fran was disappearing
around the back of the bus. Sandy wasn't even sure if her friend had heard the
Fran passed the bus doors just as they started to open. Without looking back, she made her way through the heavy double-glass doors of the hotel and straight to the large oak desk in the lobby. On her way into the hotel, Fran realized it would be best to talk to the concierge instead of being lost in a swarm of tourists at the hotel reception desk. Sandy would not be comfortable wedged in between other people.
The red-haired woman behind the oak desk looked up and smiled as Fran approached. "Welcome to the Beachside Bonavista. How can I help you today?"
"My friend," Fran gasped, trying to catch her breath, "we were on the beach and now she's bubbling up!" The woman's smile was replaced immediately with a look of concern. "Pardon me?" she said. "My friend Sandy has bubbles all over her!" said Fran. Her breathing had slowed by this time. "Well, not bubbles, really, more like blisters!"
Just as Fran finished her sentence, Sandy stumbled through the lobby doors. Her face was red, blotchy and swollen. The beach towel was coiled on the top of Sandy's head in what appeared to be an attempt to protect her ears from the sun. Her shoulders, chest and arms were covered in a mass of boils. As Sandy approached the desk, Fran could tell her friend was suffering. Sandy's arms and legs moved gingerly, never touching each other or the rest of her body. The closer Sandy got, the more apparent the extent of the break out on her skin became.
"Help," Sandy whispered as she reached the desk. Both the red-haired woman – whose name tag identified her as Grace – and Fran stared at Sandy. "Wow, you certainly do look like you bubbled up!" said Grace before realizing she had actually said the words out loud. Grace quickly clapped her hand over her mouth as her face turned almost the same shade of red as Sandy. Stifling a smile, Fran quipped, "I could sure go for a pop right now."
Silence. Had she gone too far? Fran was known for being tactless at times, but had this latest comment taken it to the point of being heartless? She certainly had not intended to hurt her best friend.
Suddenly, Sandy started to shake with laughter. "Oh my! I must be such a sight!" she said. Fran and Grace joined in, and the three women laughed until tears streaked their cheeks. Ten minutes later, they had regained their composure.
Wiping the remnants of tears from her face, Fran looked at her friend. "Sandy," she gasped, "Look - your bubbles are smaller now. The ones on your shoulders are almost gone." Sandy looked down at her arms and legs then checked her shoulders. It was true. The bubbles weren't as widespread as they had been twenty minutes ago.
"I’m not as itchy as I was outside,” Sandy said tentatively. “Does this mean I will be okay?” Grace smiled at Sandy. “You will be fine. Looks like you got too hot on the beach. Being inside in the air conditioning balanced your body temperature, reducing the swelling you had. Unfortunately, we see it here a lot.” Grace continued, sliding open the desk drawer. “Here, put some of this on the worst areas and stay cool tonight. You will be fine by morning.” Grace handed Sandy a small bottle of hydrocortisone lotion.
Sandy thanked Grace and eagerly took the bottle. As Fran and Sandy walked to the elevator, Sandy turned to Fran and said, “Bubbles be damned! The only froth I want this holiday is on top of a cold beer!”
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