On the ferry ride back from the beach, she heard two boys talking about a jellyfish so small that it could fit into your ear canal. They shared outlandish stories from friends of friends who had this happen, and it slipped inside and stung their brain.
Of course, this was impossible. It never could get past the ear canal and from what the boys shared, it’d be the same chance of a fluffy seed floating on the wind ending up in there. But it didn’t stop her from wondering if perhaps that’s what happened to her.
Soon their conversation moved on to video games and uninteresting, and the rhythmic chug of the engines lulled her into a deep slumber.
In dreams, she swam among the jellyfish, giant ones with tentacles that hung down like Rapunzel’s hair. But she avoided grasping them to pull herself back to the surface. Instead, she swam through them, impervious to their stings.
The boat whistle woke her and announced their arrival at the port. She stumbled onto the pier, wishing her bed was right there. Sadly, she still had the long walk up the hill back to the hotel.
She took the shortcut through the old market, where the streets were narrow and winding like a labyrinth. None of the streets were straight and arched in disorientating semi-circles. The merchants and restaurant owners shouting from their shops only disoriented her more.
She moved past the knock-off paintings and bloody cuts of meat and detoured down a side alley until the yelling faded away.
A dog lay in the shadow of a potted olive tree, and it didn’t even lift his head as she walked by. White-washed linen hung outside of windows to dry and behind each door was a secret life unknown to her.
She reached a dead-end that looked onto the sea, and a piano played somewhere from one of the windows. She was lost, but refused to ask anyone for directions, and took the first set of stairs back towards the sea.
She out onto a street and spied the knife-makers store at the intersection, and knew she was very close to where she was staying.
As she entered, the desk clerk bowed to her. She tried to ignore him, but he called out, “Excuse me, ma’am?”
She was close to the stairs. Perhaps she could pretend that she never heard him, or that she never realized he was speaking to her. But he might persist and follow her to the room.
She couldn’t let that happen. She turned back and offered a demure smile. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry to bother you, but we’ve had some complaints.”
“Yes. Some other guests have been concerned about a smell coming from the courtyard.”
“A little rancid.” He was nervous to even bring it up. He hesitated before continuing. “I was wondering if either you or your husband had noticed?”
She paused and thought about before saying, “No. But I will let you know if we do.” She lips quirked into a tiny smile.
The clerk was satisfied and returned to his work, and she turned and went up the stairs. With each step, she felt lighter and more free.
Before, she wouldn’t have been so capable. She didn’t know where she found the strength. Perhaps one of those jellyfish had floated inside her ear, but when it stung her, instead of harming her, it unlocked secret abilities she’d never known she had.
Perhaps that’s what happened.
She unlocked the door to her room and slipped inside.
Thank you so much for reading.
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