“Siobhan, it’s 6:20,”

Arielle’s voice floats to my room, tired but urgent.

I roll over.  “What?”

A flashback of last night’s conversation hits me:

“My flight’s at 7:40 am.”

“Okay.  Let’s leave at 6:00 then.”

“How about we say 5:45 to give ourselves space?”

“Sounds good.”

We agreed that we would put the phone alarm in the doorway between our rooms so that we could both wake with the alarm.  For extra insurance we locked Zita, the cat, inside, so that she could wake us to be let out.

I gingerly rise from my curled position on the couch.  3/4ths of my body is covered in a scalding red sunburn and my legs, covered in aloe vera, reluctantly unstick from the couch.   I had woken at 3 the night before, my legs and chest yelling at me, each other, and everything in the area. I stumbled to my suitcase and managed to locate my bottle of aloe vera which I used to coat my limbs in brief cool relief.

I’m dizzy and feel faintly nauseous. Several new flashbacks arrive – Dancing Dan describing his friend who got so burned that he couldn’t move for several days; Natty talking about her friend with sun poisoning – and I hunch over.  Maybe I have sun poisoning.  Maybe, as Arielle had pointed out, this was a sign that I should be wearing more modest swimsuits.  A burkini would have never done this damage.



40 minutes later I have missed my first flight to JFK.  6 hours later I have missed my connecting flight to Stockholm.  They reroute me through Amsterdam, flying me on standby.  2 hours into the flight, a man is lying shirtless and barely conscious on the floor a row ahead of me.  The flight attendants have busted out the KLM medical kit, and a hearty Dutch woman passenger who happens to be an ER nurse is assisting him.  They are discussing an emergency landing and I selfishly hope against it.  The flying is draining me.  My body is bipolar, menopausal, confused: I’m alternately shivering and overheating.  We do not emergency land.  The man is able to sit back in a seat.  This is clearly due to my frantic prayers.  What a good Samaritan I am.




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