Preface: Like many of my stories, this stemmed from a dream I had recently. I couldn’t wait to write it out while I was at work the next day. It could use some more editing for sure, but I was excited to share it. One of my stranger dreams I guess.
It’s not every day you get to sit on a toilet decorated with gold filigree, so I took my time urinating and eyeballing my surroundings. I had to hand it to her – Elisa had exquisite taste. I wouldn’t expect anything less from one of America’s most prestigious ballerinas. She’d been dancing since she could walk. When I met her in high school we hit it off. I can’t ever remember getting bored with Elisa. A witty girl with a wild, bohemian streak. Gorgeous, too. Tanned Colombian skin, dark hair spiraling into tiny ringlets, and of course, a disciplined dancer’s body. Ballerinas are beautiful, graceful athletes, but it’s such a shock under all the glitter, tulle, and satin to see their hideous, tortured feet. Bloody toenails, bruised and bandaged. With a dancing career in mind, Elisa began to spend less and less time doing normal teenage things and more time obsessed with her training. So, as friendships often go, it eventually dissolved and I lost her to blinding stage lights, dazzling costumes, and eager audiences. She eventually moved to San Francisco to dance with their company and rose to stardom with ease. She married another ballerina and, using their profits, bought a lovely home in the Bay area.
Upon seeing a Facebook post inviting anyone visiting in the area to stay at her house, I sent her a note saying I’d be there soon on business and it’d be lovely to stay there a night and catch up. She enthusiastically agreed. So here I was, sitting on her toilet in the fanciest bathroom I’d ever peed in. I had no idea ballerinas could make this much money. The size of this bathroom alone was larger than the biggest bedroom I’d ever had. Bigger even, than any master bedroom I’d ever seen.
When I had entered her home a couple hours earlier, she greeted me with a hard squeeze and a squeal. “Come! Put your things down. Let’s go to the study and I’ll get you some tea.” I sat on a sky-blue velvet couch and stared at the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves surrounding me. One shelf was full of the same book, a book I had been anticipating for a long time. I didn’t understand how she had over 20 copies when it wasn’t even supposed to come out yet. I walked over and begin flipping through one of them. That girl is so light on her feet I didn’t hear her behind me. “Do you want one of those? Take one! I’m friends with the author and she gave me some in advance.” Delighted, I nodded super hard and thanked her. I couldn’t believe my luck. And damn this tea was good.
We chatted for some time about our lives, our men, and our goals. She seemed different, aside from being more grown up. Edgy and a little distracted. That tea finally gave me the familiar urge and I asked where the restroom was. She pondered for few seconds probably trying to decide which of the 15 or whatever bathrooms she should send me to. “Go up that spiral staircase by the door, turn left at the top and it’s the first door on the right.”
I felt the coolness of the gold bannister in my hand as I wound my way upstairs. After admiring the wonderful bathroom in all its glory, I paused as I left the room. I glanced to the right where a long hallway stretched ahead. I could see the doorway at the very end of the hall cracked open ever so slightly. A small bit of brilliant green light seeped out, as if there were some huge stained glass masterpiece inside. The carpet was so soft and thick, I figured I wouldn’t make a sound if I wanted to walk over and take a little peek. As I got closer I couldn’t help but grow excited. Just what could this room be all about? The air grew much warmer as I approached, and a small bit of mist escaped from the opening. I pushed open the door and stepped through, expecting to see a spaceship and little green men scampering around. My jaw dropped, but not because of aliens. I had entered a glass dome – a greenhouse that jutted off the side of her house. The green light came from a green glass sculpture hanging from one of the giant palm trees looming over me. There were many spherical sculptures, some hanging, some bursting through the ground. And the ground I tread upon was all grass. A statue of a ballerina emerging from a fountain graced the middle of this domed wonderland. Beams of light from the setting sun pierced through lush foliage. Orchids, ferns, bromeliads, masses of vines, and other tropical beauties grew in clusters, cascaded down trees, and basked in the sunshine patches underneath the giant palm fronds. The humidity felt wonderful and the scent of sweet blossoms tickled my nostrils. I walked to the edge of the dome and surveyed Elisa’s kingdom. Her sprawling back yard, with gardens upon gardens, a swimming pool…the golden gate bridge in the distance. The Pacific Ocean.
“Enjoying the view?” Elisa asked from the doorway, and I jumped.
“This is insane! Sorry to sneak in but the pretty light attracted me.”
“I knew after 15 minutes you’d probably discovered my little slice of paradise. My husband built it for me as his wedding anniversary gift this year.”
“Wow. What did you get him?”
“I didn’t sign the divorce papers I had drawn up some time ago.”
“Yup! There were some issues with another rival ballerina. He was going to help her sabotage my chances of getting the lead role this season and then they’d be together. I saw the text messages. I turned the tables a little bit and caught him violating some company rules. I threatened to turn him in.”
“Holy shit. So he decided to act in his best interest…”
“Oh yeah. He had a big change of heart, and now that other ballerina girl is out of the picture. They’ll never find her body in here.”
I laughed hard. Elisa always had a morbid sense of humor which I appreciated. But the tone in which she said that gave me goosebumps. Her dead brown eyes and expression of cold apathy were so sincere they made me wonder if…no. No way.
“Well!” She exclaimed brightly. Let’s go find you a room, I’m sure you have a busy day ahead tomorrow with your job.
“So where’s that husband of yours tonight, anyway?”
“He’s just working on some personal growth this weekend,” she answered absentmindedly. Her eyes glanced down quickly and then she smiled in a weird little way. An unsettling way.
We reached one of several guest rooms and she made sure I had everything I needed. “I’ll just be doing a little yoga before bed, and then I’ll see you in the morning! I’ll make some breakfast.” She smiled, wiggled her fingers in a goodnight gesture, and left, closing the door behind her. I heard her go downstairs where the master bedroom was.
I felt uneasy and had trouble sleeping, but I finally did get a little shut-eye until I woke up in the darkness. I rolled over to look at the digital clock on the nightstand. It read 3:48am. That tea must have dehydrated me. I was parched. I got out of bed to use the bathroom – the same luxurious bathroom I had used earlier.
I thought while I was up it might be nice to see that jungle room again and enjoy it in the moonlight. The door was still open a crack, and this time a soft green light bled from the doorway. I entered the jungle room. How wonderful the heat felt on my skin since the temperature in the rest of the house had dropped quite a bit overnight. My bare feet brushed through the grass as I strolled along the perimeter, touching leaves here, bending down to smell blossoms there. I continued to walk until I nearly stumbled over a mound in front of me. I was too busy looking up at the tropical trees to notice. The plants grew thick here, and a small pile of tools lay nearby. A spade, a shovel, and several bushes in pots waiting to be planted. All was silent except for the trickle of the fountain in the middle of the dome. I surveyed the mound below me. The lump of earth spanned maybe 6 feet or so. Something odd poked out of the ground at one end of the mound. I frowned and dug away some dirt from the thing, which turned out to be a toe. My stomach turned to ice and I felt sick, so sick. Sirens went off in my head. They sounded like those tornado or air raid sirens. But I couldn’t stop – I took a mini spade from the pile and began scraping away more and more dirt, until a body slowly appeared. I expected a ballerina’s corpse but instead I saw Andreas, Elisa’s husband.
He looked extra pale in the moonlight. Clumps of dirt matted to his lips, nose, and everywhere else. His feet were badly mangled, like someone had taken an axe to them prior to sinking it deep in his skull. A large chunk of skin was missing from his head. A deep gash revealed some missing skull and I could see part of his brain through the little window. It was so horrifying and yet I couldn’t look away. I almost didn’t notice that the door to the jungle room creaked. I couldn’t see it from where I was, but I quietly slipped away from Andreas, and, like a jungle cat, I found a hiding spot. Now I could see the entrance. The stunning silhouette of a ballerina stood stock still by the door. Her right hand held an axe. I was being stalked by another jungle predator. I could tell her eyes and ears were waiting to pick up the faintest signal.
“Someone’s not in bed,” came a sinister voice.