~ ~ ~
If she let herself think about it for too long, she’d quickly conclude that she’d gone mad. It was the only logical explanation. After all, this was not something that sane people do.
So she focused on the little details of her plan instead, in the hopes that they would keep her grounded. The tickets, purchased in the early hours of the morning when people with particular obsessions trolled the internet for cheap prices and a variety of other less savory things. The hotel, which she’d allowed herself to splurge on even though she knew she’d struggle the next couple of paychecks. And the wig. It all started with the wig.
She’d put it on as a joke while attending a themed party with a friend. Darla had sworn it would provide an evening of debauchery that a “repressed” (her word) woman like herself so desperately needed. It had been a disaster, of course. But in the midst of a variety of middle-aged men using pick-up lines that were outdated back when she’d first started dating she found a table set up with various costume disguises. The wig was tucked in the corner, behind a neon pink pixie and bright green beehive, and distinguished itself from the others as the only natural-looking color. Not that anything about the blond shag was natural to her.
“Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Darla had said, patting her on the back. “No more depressed divorcee- you’re a wild woman!”
Staring back at the unfamiliar reflection in the mirror and listening to Darla’s encouragement had sparked something. Darla was right- that woman would not allow a man, or the lack of one in her life, define her. That woman would not slink quietly into the twilight of her life as she had been since Chris had left. That woman would not fear adventure and creep silently through her years like a mouse in an attic. And that woman certainly wouldn’t let even a single minute pass before she reveled in it.
She didn’t tell Darla about her idea that night. And when she did announce that she’d planned a vacation to Hawaii she left out the details of her plan. After all, one can’t have a secret identity if it’s not secret.
But her naturally timid personality threatened to undue her preparations whenever she lingered too long on the plan in its whole; so she broke it up into smaller parts and followed through in each step as if it were just another item on her to-do list.
It wasn’t until she was on the plane with a rapidly expanding distance between her and her real life that she began to invent her persona. A happily divorced woman, one who would never take something like a first marriage too seriously. Someone who was confident, brave and vibrant. Someone who’d do all the things she was too timorous to do.
She spent the flight lost in thought, contemplating what a woman like that sounds like when she speaks, how she carries herself, what she looks like when observed by a man. She thought about where this vibrant woman went to college (one of the more controversial liberal arts colleges), what she did for a living (geriatric nurse), how she spent her time when not at work (kickboxing and attending wine tastings). She composed an entire symphony of details. And all of them seemed to hinge on one deciding factor: the name.
At first she thought of the flighty and absurd SanDeE from her favorite movie, but then decided that she didn’t want to be such a flibbertigibbet. But she liked the word, it felt smooth and satisfying when her mouth formed it. She repeated it like a mantra until a small twitch of the tongue converted it into Stacy. But not the normal spelling- she was too unique for that. And no big E, either- she was too real for that. But an I and an E, normal sized. That was it.
By the time she landed in the world of palm trees, tropical flowers and the most sensual breeze that ever flowed over her skin she had a new personality to match her disposition, and she was anxious to try it out. She checked into the hotel, ran up to her room, and changed.
She’d gone shopping with Darla- or, rather, Darla had gone shopping and she’d vicariously tried on things by watching Darla cycle through at least a dozen outfits, and concluding what she could pull off and what she couldn’t just from how they hung on Darla with her giant personality. Then she’d snuck back later and purchased the ones that fit. So the plunging neck line and bright colors were foreign and odd on her. But then she put on the wig, the choppy blond strands cascading over her bare shoulders, and everything cliqued. Stacie was happy to be here, and she was happy to be a voyeur for the next few hours and watch what she would do.
Each step down the sandy path to the beach bar evoked a flood of emotions. Excitement, fear, lust, thirst, thrill, confusion and impulse all toppled over each other like clothes in the dryer and by the time she reached the sounds of clinking glasses and intoxicated laughter she was buzzing.
Her smile was alive and glowing, she could feel it light her entire face. And with the veil of blond strands in her periphery she advanced to the bar, pulled up a stool next to the tall man with dark hair and gray temples, and sat down.
“Hey stranger,” she laughed. “Buy me a drink.” She’d never done anything so brazen in her entire life and her heart swelled with the freedom she’d so desperately been missing.
At first the man hesitated, his eyes skeptical and hesitant. But then his expression softened and he smiled at her. “Can I at least get a name first?”
“Stacie,” she said, and her smile widened.
(1,000 words, exactly)