The winds were strong. Mom and Dad kept urging me ahead. They didn’t seem to remember how much I dislike boats. But this would be different. Different they said because the boat was a ship: an Ocean Liner. I thought that was ridiculous. It’s bigger therefore it sinks faster.
“Come on, Desi,” Mom said. “Don’t you want to see the room?”
Oh, great. Yes, I really want to spend time in a room with fishbowl windows, and being lashed from side-to-side. My stomach already sour, queasiness had settled there. This was going to be a nightmare.
“I bet there’ll be a few cute boys,” she said.
Oh, God. She’s trying that one, again. I’m most attractive in the hue of blue and green. I rolled my eyes and pray to be close to a railing where I can jump off. I mean, throw up.
I drop my bag on the bed. I have my own room. I mean I should, I am traveling with my parents. It’s times like these I wish I had a sibling. Now they’re going to expect me to go out there and make new friends. Why bother? It’s not likely I’ll see any of these people again.
When we take family vacations, I might meet a few people, and collect a couple numbers, but we never call each other and make plans. Usually, they’re from a hundred miles away. Sure, we friend each other on social media. But then one of us drops the mic and forgets about ever chatting again. Who cares? After the weekend, I’ll be back home where my real friends are.
A knock. “Hi, Mom.”
“Isn’t this fun, we have joining rooms if you want to use it?”
“I like having a front door.” I fold my arms and sit on the very thin mattress. Great, I’ll get to feel every wave we rock over.
“Want to come with us for the meet and greet?”
I give her the infamous Desiree eye.
“Okay, but that’s where we’ll be. Make yourself comfortable. Maybe stroll along the promenade.” She turns back before closing the door. “You all right?”
I nod and unfold my arms, and if I want to get rid of her I better say, “I’ll take a walk, soon as I unpack.”
She smiles, and reassures me, once again, where she and Dad will be hanging out.
I sigh, heavily. Look at my watch. I better not start that. If I watch every minute till this is over it’ll feel like an eternity. I begin unpacking, and hang the black dress, of which mom thought was too serious for boat trip and for summer, inside the tiny closet. I turn for my bag and notice something on the floor in the closet. A string? I bend over and tug on it, but the string won’t budge. I pull harder, and nothing happens. I drop to the floor, trying to see where the string ends. This closet is larger than it looks. “AHH!”
“Ahh!” Something screams back.
I jump up and bang my head. “What are you doing in my room?” I ask. Some boy is sitting there, his sweater unraveling and I’m holding the end of the unravel.
“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Guy.”
“French pronunciation. You’re American, right?” he said, with his French accent.
I nod. “My parents aren’t going to like you being in my room. Why are you in the closet? You hiding from someone?”
“Actually, yes I was.” His eyes look around. “The last person in this room was Dutch, very nice boy. He kept me company.”
“You’re a stowaway, I get it. But you must have missed your departure. We’re leaving NYC.”
“Yes, that’s what the Dutch boy told me.”
“Where’d you want to go?”
“I don’t know actually. I’m waiting for someone to find me. We were playing hide and seek, and I hid in here . . . and?”
“Why won’t you come out of the closet, are you hungry?”
“Did your parents get off already? You should come out quick before we actually depart—come on.” I try and pull him out, but my hand slips through his wrist. I try again, and again.
“You’re a ghost!”
“Yeah, I think I am. That’s what the Dutch boy said, too.”
“Cool.” I collapse next to him. “But you aren’t one of those dangerous, and scary ghosts, right?”
“Don’t think so?”
“How come your sweater isn’t, um, transparent like the rest of you?”’
“Some girl, from years back gave it to me. Said it helped her to see where I was.”
“Oh? Can you leave the closet?”
“Sure, but only in the room. I think. But once I leave the closet, you won’t see me either.”
“I bet it’s the same throughout the ship.”
“We could hang out. There’s never anyone to talk to on these boring trips my parents drag me on.”
“Well, if your going to be my escort maybe we should take the sweater off, completely. Wouldn’t want to draw too much attention.”
I open the closet door, and wait. He floats out, wearing the sweater and slowly disappears in the light. The sweater may have been a hundred years old from the looks of it. He takes it off and fades.
“We’re going to have so much fun.” I imagine the tricks we are going to play, first on my parents and then the staff.
Mom calls my cell. “I’m heading up now, meet you there.”
I turn to Guy. “Ready for some fun?”
“Anything’s better than that closet.”
I’m dressed for dinner in my black dress and ready for adventure. Maybe this trip will be some kind of fun after all.