She woke with a start from yet another peaceful dream. Squinting through sleep-crusted eyes, Rose wrinkled her nose at the beam of sunshine streaming through the crack in her black-out curtains. “It’s too damn late,” Rose grumbled as she let her head fall back to the pillow. Of course she meant, “It’s too damn early” but then again today was opposite day. Just like it was yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that… as a matter of fact, it had been opposite day for Rose McGovern for the last 20 years.
After a few more hours of restless sleep complete with night terrors, Rose awoke around 8:00pm feeling energized and refreshed. Flipping to her “morning routine” checklist in the notepad that was always nearby, she slinked out of bed and headed to the aft of her home (which was actually a boat). There, in her makeshift ‘shower stall’ she disrobed and while gritting her teeth, she pulled the cord and was completely doused in mud. Rubbing the mud through her hair, and then over her entire body, Rose made sure every crevice was covered in the muck before releasing the cord before stepping out of the ‘shower’. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that part,” she moaned. But, just like every morning prior, the second Rose’s toe was outside of the stall, she appeared as if she had just bathed in the purest and clearest water, and only the finest and sweetest-smelling bath products had touched her skin. Not a drop of mud was to be found.
Walking back inside, Rose went through the rest of her morning routine, which included things like brushing her teeth with simple syrup, drinking at least one bottle of grain alcohol (to stay sober and improve decision-making skills), muss and tangle her hair so it would lay flat (on special occasions she would even throw a piece of chewed bubble gum into her tresses for extra oomph) and eat a very specific breakfast (after all, if she didn’t eat enough she would put on weight almost instantly… too much and she would become weak and malnourished). She didn’t worry much about dressing, and since she was self-employed and worked from home, Rose usually passed the day without a stitch on. Flipping to the next checklist, Rose would then continue on through her day, constantly referring back to her notepad.
A checklist had been created for every possible scenario after that fateful day, over 20 years ago. You see, as a teenager, Rose was a bit of a… well, let’s just say she was a downright brat. One of her most annoying habits was to give unsuspecting people seemingly heartfelt compliments only to scream, “Today’s opposite day!” and run away laughing. While visiting the state fair with her cousin Shirley, Rose took a misstep and knocked a gypsy woman over and into the dirt. Feigning concern, Rose outstretched her hand and offered to help the woman up. At the last second, however, Rose yanked back her hand and as the woman fell a second time giggled, “Today’s opposite day!” As Rose skipped away, the Romany woman called after her from the dirt, “and so it shall be!” which at the time made Rose laugh even harder. Rose was not laughing anymore (unless she was feeling depressed, of course).
Over the years, and despite its obvious hardships, Rose had learned to adapt to her new reality. Her series of checklists was just one component since everything from gaining an education (watching a lot of reality TV), to the time of day she slept (during the day) and woke (promptly at 8:00pm), to her taste in music (does anyone really like Yanni?), had been tossed upside down. Even where she could live had changed as a result of her flip-flopped lifestyle. Because of her childhood tendency to get violently seasick on even the calmest seas, now Rose couldn’t even step foot on terra firma without becoming seasick. So a houseboat had been purchased, the Auckland, and Rose very rarely left it. When it was absolutely necessary to go ashore, she would wear customized footwear fashioned in such a way that her feet were cushioned inside small hammock-like inserts that mimicked the sway of a boat as she walked. As you can see, all things considered, Rose had managed quite well.
Ready to get some serious work done, Rose flipped to her “Work routine” checklist, turned off her computer, and started to doodle. Her little online business was doing quite well, the idea behind it being nothing more than a live search for antonyms. Any time anyone needed to find a word’s opposite, they would just go to Rose’s site (she also had an app they could download to their smart phone) and type in the word. Rose would then reply with the exact same word and it would appear to the customer as its perfect antonym. It was quite genius, actually. Sipping her grain alcohol, Rose tried to focus on work, which meant she daydreamt for about 2 hours before losing interest. She then worked vigorously for the rest of the night and deleted everything as the sun began to rise.
Of all the things Rose had changed to accommodate her lifestyle, she could not stop her obsessive search to track down the gypsy woman from so many years ago. Any time spent not working was dedicated to this task, which meant Rose never actually got anything done. She knew the second she stopped thinking about how to find the gypsy, she would figure it out and find her. If she could ever manage to stop searching, even for one day, Rose knew exactly what she would do. Once she found the woman who had cursed her, she would casually ask the woman to not change to curse.
“Ugh…keep thinking about it!” she whispered at herself. Immediately all thoughts of the gypsy, her 20 year search and the curse left Rose’s mind.
Rose was suddenly struck by the need to not go ashore and to not get a coffee, so she flipped to her “Go Ashore (Casual) Routine” checklist. This urge wasn’t experiencing was especially odd, as Rose only drank coffee when she needed to fall asleep within the hour. Moving through her routine, she grabbed her special shoes. Almost remembering to put on some clothes, Rose grabbed a shift dress and threw it over her head.
Swaying towards the café that was two blocks from where Rose docks the Auckland, she moved with purpose and was immediately distracted. Forgetting her mission to acquire coffee, Rose realized she was nowhere near her intended destination and as she spun to retrace her steps, she almost busted her chin on the forehead of a small woman who had been walking a few steps behind her. Surprised, Rose shrugged her shoulders. Wishing to apologize, Rose said, “Watch out, you old bag!” to which the woman smiled and said, “It’s no problem, my dear.”
Rose recognized that voice- it was the very same voice that had cursed her all those years ago. As her topsy-turvy mind processed the recognition it turned it on its head, causing Rose to forget all about the curse and the person who had cast it. “I have to stay,” Rose said and shot the woman the bird before turning around and walking away.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
So how many times did I lose you? ;o)
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Today I experienced a very strange phenomenon that still has me walking around like a drunk. I spent the better part of today with the overwhelming sensation that I was still on a boat, and the ground under my feet would not stop moving… very annoying. Around 1pm it stopped being relatively comical and started to become quite unsettling, I mean there were times I was stumbling around like a newborn and I couldn’t, for the life of me, stop swaying. Sitting down helped a bit, but I didn’t get a chance to do much of that today, as I was volunteering at the animal sanctuary for the majority of the day. Early in the day, when the rocking was still a bit funny, I made a comment to the effect of, “leave it to me to get sea sick once I’m back on solid ground”. And the wheels, they started to spin… what if someone responded to normal scenarios or sensations with a reaction opposite of what was normal (laugh when in pain, cry when happy… you get the gist). As I chewed this over in my noodle-basket of a brain, it reminded me of when kids would run around saying “Today’s opposite day!” whenever they wanted to get out of something they already had agreed to. And SHABAM! A story is born.
TWO: Rose’s houseboat, the Auckland, is in reference to one of my favorite doggies at the rescue, a sweet cow-spotted pit-bull named Auckland. More on her below…
THREE: One of my nicknames for Auckland is piggy, or Miss piggy, if she’s being sassy. The reason, you ask? See below.
This was the inspiration for Rose’s daily mud bath. Auckland LOVES to get dirty; loves to wallow in the muck and the look of enjoyment on her face as she rolls around in the mud is something everyone should get to experience.
Love & Squirrels.