TentativeMature

The adventures of a woman entering her late twenties with no idea what she's doing there.

Amalie felt the boat lurch as her stomach did the same, giving one last dry heave for good measure. Her stomach was empty now, she was sure, although she hardly felt less sick for the experience. She fought to catch her breath, closing her eyes and leaning her forehead against the cool porcelain of the toilet seat. One shaky hand reached up, summoning strength enough to pull the lever and flush the toilet. The evidence of her weakness now neatly swept out to sea, Amalie finally began to calm. Being able to breath through her nose without wanting to retch again helped.

Fuck, she thought to herself, head still resting against the rim of the toilet, arms grasping the basin as if it could deliver the calm she was seeking. I haven't puked from drinking since high school.

Not true, she corrected herself, what about your 23rd birthday in AC, the night you decided to try 4 Loko like a fucking genius.

Doesn't count, she rationalized, its impossible not to vomit on 4 Loko. Besides, that hardly helps me now.

Amalie realized she hadn't moved in at least two minutes. She'd been gone from the group for at least 5. Still not moving, she opened her eyes. The grimy floor of the boat was actually cleaner than she had expected. No cockroaches had been keeping her company, at least. She heard giggling to her left. Two pairs of sandals occupied the stall next to her, the strappy kind, expensive looking, or more expensive than rubber flip flops anyway. Then again, this wasn't exactly a flip-flop kind of place. She heard the jingling of keys as her neighbors continued to giggle.

At least they're having more fun than I am. The boat rocked. She climbed to her feet thanks in large part to her friend the toilet's stability.

Grasping her way out of the stall, Amalie was relieved to find the remainder of the ladies' room empty. Making her way to the lone sink, she turned on the faucet and splashed her face with cool water before allowing herself a glimpse at her appearance. A large crack in the glass ran down the left side of the mirror like a scar, grime was embedded in the frame. The décor had seen better days, and so had she. Amalie's hazel eyes were dull and bloodshot, her bottom eyelashes were ringed with black makeup residue, which stood out against her pale, green-tinged skin. Her hair floated around her like an aura comprised mainly of static cling despite the liberal amount of frizz-taming product she had applied that morning.

Fuck.

Amalie waved her hand in front of the paper towel dispenser desperately until it wheezed and whirled, producing at least 6 unnecessary sheets of paper. Letting all but one dangle  Amalie wiped the makeup from underneath her eyes, still leaving some trace of the raccoon look, but altogether resulting in an improvement. She looked tired, now, but not necessarily sick. She rummaged through her wristlet for a hair tie and pulled her undisciplined mane into contained, if poufy, ponytail. She had just dyed her hair a chocolate color, but the gratuitous frizz that had replaced her curls of this morning made it appear that she was graying. The fluorescent lighting wasn't doing her any favors. 

Well, the rest can't be helped. I'd better go find everyone. Amalie took one last look at herself before reaching for the door. What happened to you? Amateur.

The boat rocked.

***

Amalie carefully made her way up the steeply arranged wooden two- by- fours that passed for stairs, clutching the shoddy railing with white knuckles. She tried to breathe smoothly, evenly, fighting for equilibrium as the boat continued to bounce on the now-calm waves. She realized that she was absolutely wasted. As if hurling your guts up wasn't a clue, she automatically responded to herself. Her inner monologue could be a snarky little bitch.

As she emerged from bowels of her private hell below deck she was greeted by a dismal scene. The sun, shining only fifteen minutes before, was hidden behind ashy clouds and a gust of wet wind promised more to come. Really? Of course really.  Sure, it hadn't exactly been hot before Amalie's adventure below deck, but the sun had been peeking out from behind innocent clouds all day. It had all actually been rather picturesque- a group of friends, finally all reunited after several weeks of boring adult life, gathered to pay homage to the brave souls that fought and prevailed in the Battle of Puebla. The wind nibbled at Amalie, making her wish she had worn pants with a few less "Destroyed Style" rips in them, or at least brought a jacket. She squinted through her Marc Jacobs aviators- newly purchased for the occasion. The table she had been sitting at with her friends was empty.

Amalie had a moment of panic as she scanned the rest of the bar for signs of anyone she might know. It was like a  Where's Waldo for the trendy set, twenty-somethings with the men in colored denim and spring scarves and the women in sundresses (most wisely now supplemented by a cardigan, or a boyfriend's blazer) and espadrilles. Everyone laughing, drinking, having a good time despite the shift in weather. Most of them are too drunk to notice. Not drunk enough to lose their lunch over a measly shot of Patron, though. Amalie decided her friends were definitely absent.

Assholes! Amalie growled internally. It's not even raining yet! She dug through her bag once more, hoping she had retained enough motor skills to keep from tossing her phone into the Hudson. It was 5:23 p.m. If she booked it, she could be on the 6:07 train to Newark and at Hex's by 7 o'clock. She smiled at the thought of relaxing on the couch under a warm blanket, resting against Hector's chest and watching something extra trashy on TV. There should be pizza involved in this scenario as well. Amalie pulled up her recent text messages, selecting the topmost thread and hastily punched in  "Taking the 6 pm train, see you soon <3," before sending her words and her love out through the atmosphere like a message in a bottle. Amalie hoped she had actually sent a coherent message, she didn't want to seem too drunk. He'll figure it out, she reassured herself. Besides, its not like Hex has ever resisted vodka and its many charms.

She started to make her way to the dock. The boat rocked, and Amalie's stomach with it. Shit, she cursed, trying to steady herself. Why would anyone ever want to put a bar on a fucking boat.

I wonder where everybody went. I hope everything is okay…

Amalie pulled up the number of her  friend Erin, who, she vaguely recalled, had not seemed quite as drunk as the rest of the group. No answer. Amalie noticed a man standing nearby, collecting empty Corona bottles from an empty table- the remnants of others like herself, dedicated to commemorating the valiant effort by the Mexican army to bring tequila to the French.

"Excuse me," she slurred at the man, who didn't look up from his task. She tried again, forcing herself to pronounce her words carefully. "Excuse me, I'm looking for my friends." The man glanced her way and Amalie moved closer. "My friends were sitting over there," she gestured towards a large table at the back of the boat, "but they've moved. Do you happen to know where?"

The man resumed what he was doing, hastily chattering at her, "Que? No, no. Sorry. Lo siento. No English, Miss."

Amalie gave him a tight smile as she made her way towards the dock. Why am I not surprised.

***

Augusto was exhausted. He had worked all last night on the line at his job at a small but busy Mexican restaurant, maybe the only place where he actually felt productive or worthwhile anymore. He slept for perhaps two hours before heading to his  incomprehensible "English As a Second Language" class at 7 am, and then straight to the bar to clean up after the sloppy gringos. He was putting every penny into a savings account meant for culinary school. Unfortunately, sometimes that meant degrading himself quite a bit.

Augusto made his way across the deck as the boat dipped this way and that, laughing to himself as the partiers were surprised by particularly choppy wave. He had no problem keeping his balance, even as he made his way down the wooden stairs below deck to inspect the bathrooms. He went into the men's room, relieved  to see only the usual muck. He took long strides to the door, the ladies' room, feeling confident that the women couldn't possibly conduct themselves in a manner worse than the men. He knocked on the door and heard nothing. He knocked again, just to be safe, and opened the door a crack.

"Hello? Hello?"

"Shit!" He heard a woman's voice say, as two girls burst out of one of the stalls, giggling,  and pushed their way out of the door, nearly bowling him over.

Annoyed but unscathed, Augusto's estimation of female gentility instantly plummeted. Someone had forgotten to turn off the faucet, and the sink was overflowing with water. Paper towels hung from the automated dispenser halfway to the ground, as if they had been trying to escape but were suddenly caught in the act. The small room had a stale, sour odor. Augusto opened the recently vacated stall to find it relatively unharmed  by the excess occupancy. He had no such luck in the second stall, where he found russet chunks of dried vomit sprayed along the wall and floor, as well as the back of the toilet.

Cursing, Augusto exited the bathroom to go in search of a mop. A dark haired woman was standing outside the bathroom, very petite, with blue eyes.

"Oh!" She exclaimed, startled by his sudden appearance. "Um, excuse me, do you work here?" she chirped, her high-pitched voice matching her tiny proportions, like a little bird.

"Yes," Augusto replied, eyeing her warily. The girl looked relieved.

"Good, um, I'm looking for my friend. Have you seen her? She said she was going to the bathroom like a half hour ago, and she's not back yet. Is she in there?" The small woman looked up at Augusto hopefully. At a different time he may have smiled at her, he might have made an effort to use some of the English he had learned so far, trying to help, trying to flirt. But he was in no mood.

"Sorry. No English, Miss." Augusto frowned as he side-stepped the tiny woman and resignedly climbed the stairs to the deck.

The End

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