The invitation arrived on Tuesday; stuck between two busted samples of sunscreen that oozed and dripped in the mailbox. Sabrina frowned at the sickening sweet smell of coconut and mango as she squished the letters together and pulled them out of the box. A sticky blob of the lotion plopped onto her shirt and sat there; jiggling and glistening in the sunlight. She swiped it off; leaving a greasy smear next to the ketchup stain that was always there. The busted sample packs left globs of sunscreen on the counter where she tossed the mail. Sabrina scowled at the coconut smell that threatened to overpower the kitchen’s usual rotten-eggs smell. That perky sunscreen smell had a tendency to linger and Sabrina didn’t like it. If she had a choice, she’d take rotten eggs over sunscreen any day. So, when she discovered that the invitation was coated with slimy sunscreen, she didn’t bother reading it before tossing it in the trashcan. After that, she went about her day as usual; grumbling and complaining about everything.
For, you see, Sabrina was a miserable person who forced misery on everyone she met. She was good at it, too. Not only was she hideously uncomfortable to look at, she also smelled bad.
“If she’d have that hairy mole removed, she might be more pleasant.”
“Or if she’d just brush her teeth. They’re green, for goodness sakes.”
If that wasn’t enough to put people off, she had her unpleasant personality to fall back on. Sabrina never uttered a word that wasn’t a complaint or negative comment. She was so repellant, that when people saw her coming, they ran in the opposite direction. If you listened in the mall or shopping center, you could identify Sabrina’s location by the sound of the crying babies she left in her wake. However, humans weren’t the only ones who suffered in her presence. Sabrina emanated such foul negativity, that happy little songbirds keeled over and died; splatting on the sidewalk as she walked by. Dogs tucked tail and ran from her and cats climbed trees to escape her. Flowers withered and plants decayed before her.
Maybe it wasn’t always so bad, though. Somehow, in her younger days before she stopped bathing, Sabrina managed to get pregnant. The father of the child died of disgust soon after conceiving, so Sabrina raised the baby on her own. No one knows how it happened, but the child grew up to be mostly normal and without the miserable tendencies of Sabrina. The child, Tammy, occasionally succeeded in talking her mother into participating in some event that was good for her. At the age of five, for example, she coaxed her mother into brushing her teeth. It wasn’t easy, though. Dealing with such a miserable human being for eighteen years took a toll on Tammy. She needed a break.
So, when the tantalizing aroma of coconut and mango lured Tammy to the sunscreen-soaked invitation in the trash bin, something occurred to her. She wiped the invitation clean of sunscreen and cigarette ash while formulating a plan to save herself from her mother’s misery.
“Mom, look what I found. It’s an all-expense-paid luxury vacation to Endless Day Beach and Spa— the new resort that opened last week.”
Sabrina grabbed the invitation from her daughter and threw it back in the trash. Tammy retrieved it. Sabrina threw it back in. Tammy got it out.
“Mother, I think you have Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Tammy held a mirror up to her mother’s face. “Look at the bags under your eyes! And your skin is so yellow! You need the sunshine!”
The two stubborn women stared at each other; neither willing to back down. Then, Tammy said the thing that changed Sabrina’s mind and ultimately changed the course of her life.
“Just try it for one day. You can always come home after the sun goes down, but please just try it for ONE DAY.”
Sabrina sighed, crossed her arms, and narrowed her eyes at her daughter.
“One. Day. It’ll be sandy and chaffing and hot, but at least I’ll have something to complain about. I’m not spending the night there, though, so don’t even ask.”
And with that, Sabrina packed a day bag and drove to the resort. But, she wasn’t happy about it. She was never happy about anything. She cursed the sunshine, salty sea air, and sand.
Sabrina mumbled to herself as she handed her car keys to the valet.
“Ugh! Valet. Who has cash to tip people these days?” (Mumble mumble complain complain).
The young valet grinned at Sabrina; his upbeat demeanor unwavering, even in the presence of such raw misery.
“We don’t accept tips, ma’am. Enjoy your stay at Endless Day Beach and Spa.”
Sabrina mumbled, “Yeah yeah. Screw you and the happy boat you rowed in on.”
The valet drove off and Sabrina stood at the front entrance to the resort. She scowled as a butterfly flew near her, seized and floated to the ground; dead.
“Hoity-toity millennials with their man buns and privilege can’t even put up a decent sign. How’s anyone supposed to know where to go around here. Bunch of idiots.”
Sabrina frowned and muttered under her breath as she walked under the enormous yellow sign that said, “DAY BEACH”. She continued her angry rant all the way down a cobblestone path to the beach; withering plants and scaring off wildlife in her wake.
“Uneven cobblestone…just asking for a broken hip. My tax dollars better not be going to this. I will call my congressman, you better believe it.”
At the end of the path, stood a twenty-something, ponytailed, perky female, who greeted Sabrina with a chipper, sing-song voice. Sabrina hocked a loogie and spit on the girl’s foot.
The girl giggled and let the loogie drip off her shoe.
“Wow! You’re a very talented spitter.” The annoyingly energetic female followed beside Sabrina, talking nonstop and describing the facilities and amenities.
“Where can I get something alcoholic so I can tolerate your annoying voice?” Sabrina suppressed the urge to punch the girl.
The girl didn’t stop talking as she pointed toward the beachside bar.
Sabrina wolfed down three drinks, but didn’t find the girl’s high-pitched voice any more pleasant.
“Ugh.You talk too much. Go away! Why don’t you go away?” Sabrina breathed her foul breath into the girl’s face, but she didn’t even flinch.
“It’s my job, ma’am. If the sun doesn’t do the trick, then ‘kill them with kindness’, that’s what we always say here…” The girl yammered on, undeterred.
“You’re like one of those sticky boogers that won’t let go of your finger.” Sabrina ordered two more drinks and farted in the girl’s direction. None of her usual misery-inducing tricks worked on this girl.
After another hour of continual chatting, the girl led Sabrina to a beach chair on the sand and left her alone. Sabrina drank two shots of vodka and dozed off to the sound of the ocean.
A sudden barrage of show tunes blasted Sabrina awake. She yelled several unsavory words, but no one heard her over the music. It was loud. And it came from a group of resort employees that surrounded Sabrina’s chair. Dressed in full broadway attire, they performed Cats, with brass band accompaniments. One of them shoved another drink in Sabrina’s hand. There was no escape. She hated every second of it, of course, but she sat there and sipped her margarita.
They bowed at the end, but she refused to clap. She was certain she’d have nightmares of the bizarre-looking cat-people for the rest of her life. (Creepy singing cat people.)
Sabrina dozed off again, and woke to a kid poking her in the cheek. She opened her eyes and scowled at the lad. Her knee-jerk reaction was to slap the kid, but her arm wouldn’t move. She looked down at herself and discovered she was buried up to her neck. The kid held a shovel full of sand aimed at Sabrina’s face.
“You were going to slap me, weren’t you, you old hag!” Kids hated Sabrina and the feeling was mutual. Ordinarily, Sabrina was the one in control of the situation. She prided herself on her ability to make kids scream and cry in terror. The kid with the shovel, however, was not the least bit frightened of Sabrina. She was forced to try something new; being nice.
“Hey, um, look, maybe we can be friends. Huh? Just put the shovel down and let’s talk about it.”
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t bury you.”
“I have money!”
“No you don’t. I saw you stiff the valet.”
“It’s in my pocket. You’ll have to unbury me.”
“How much?” The kid crossed his arms and tapped his foot.
“A hundred bucks. All yours if you’ll unbury me.”
The kid shrugged and started shoveling sand off Sabrina’s feet.
Meanwhile, a flock of seagulls flew directly above the defenseless, buried woman. Three of the birds launched long squirts of poop, SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT!, onto her face. Some went in her mouth.( A lot went in her mouth.) A crab crawled to her ear and pinched it. None of these things were especially comfortable, and Sabrina made sure everyone knew it as she blurted out a constant stream of profanity.
The kid was no dummy. He uncovered Sabrina from waist down, got the money out of her pocket, and took off.
Sabrina wiggled until she freed the rest of herself from the sand. She brushed gritty sand off her arms and cringed in pain. Bright red, sunburnt skin blazed from underneath the grains of sand. She ran her parched tongue over puss-filled blisters that used to be her lips. How long had she been out there? She found her phone and looked at the time. It was quarter passed midnight and the sun still shone high in the sky; blasting her tender skin with ultraviolet radiation.
Sabrina looked at her arms and watched as the skin sizzled and curled like a thin piece of bacon in a skillet. The sun pounded on her head and grew hotter. She screamed and jumped up; suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to get out of the sun. She gathered her belongings and ventured over the scorching sand toward the cobblestone path. Every step caused excruciating pain as the sand claimed melted chunks of her feet in each footprint.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the perky young lady who first greeted her appeared and blocked her exit.
“Oh no you don’t! You signed up for the daytime beach experience. You’re registered at this beach for the day. You can’t leave, silly.” The girl “booped” Sabrina’s blistered nose. Sabrina screamed in pain, reared back and punched the girl in the face.
The girl giggled.
Sabrina pushed past her, only to be blocked by a group of whistle-happy lifeguards. Eighteen of them blew their whistles and danced in synch around Sabrina.Two of the most muscular lifeguards pushed her onto a stretcher and carried her back to the beach.
“I want to go home! Let me out of here!” She screamed and wailed, but no one could hear her over the incessant whistle blowing. Someone thrust a strawberry daiquiri in her hand. She was so thirsty, she drank it all in one gulp; then passed out from heat exhaustion. When she woke, seven hours later, her sunburn didn’t hurt anymore because the sun had burned through the pain receptors in her skin. Her skin melted and dripped off her bones; plopping to the sand below. She tried to stand, but several pairs of kid-sized hands pushed her down. Her eyelids sizzled and detached from her eyes; sticking momentarily to her cheek and then dropping onto the sand. Bulging, blistered eyeballs watched as a group of youngsters circled her chair, chanting. Smoke drifted off her nose before it ignited and fell into the sand.
Buzzards took over for the seagulls and waited their turn to munch on Sabrina’s carcass. One impatient buzzard flew off with her baby toe. Another pecked and plucked skin off her calf.
Delirium and shock descended upon Sabrina causing an astounding shift in her attitude. Finally, after years of wallowing in misery and inflicting her unhappiness on others, Sabrina…SMILED. And a chunk of her cheek melted; stretching toward her shoulder like silly putty.
“It’s too late for you now.” The kid chuckled and stood beside her. He wiggled a bottle of sunscreen and cleared his throat to get Sabrina’s attention.
“Ahem. Hey, dummy! If you’re going to spend an endless day at the beach, WEAR SUNSCREEN!”
If she’d had a nose, she’d have smelled coconut and mango right before she died.