By Norma Sadler  

	Blue egg shells clung to broken yokes on the marble
floor.  A bit of fluff lay nearby.  The
couple--Marjorie and Richard--looked up at the birds,
diving and circling around the beams that held the
marble pyramid above the hotel lobby.  But Lupita,
taking them on a hotel tour of the Melia Cabo Real,
was already down the open hallway, and Marjorie and
Richard quickened their pace to keep up.
	"Here is el doctor," Lupita said, pointing at closed
doors.  "He is on duty twenty-four hour a day.  Here,
the health spa." She pointed at another closed door. 
"You can sit in the spa hot tub for as long as you
want.  Just a few nuevo pesos."
	Richard and Marjorie, their heads bobbing like
pigeons, eyed the closed doors, as if they were
waiting for doors to be opened and scenes to unfold. 
Here would be the doctor curing gringos of la turista;
there, the hot tub with people laughing and sinking
down into the water.
	"This is the weight room," Lupita said directly to
Richard, speaking in Spanish only to him, having
learned that the Senora was not speaking, would not
even try to speak the language of Mexico.  She opened
the door half way so that they could see that indeed
there was an exercise machine, one lone bicycle in the
center of mirrored walls, looking as if there were
hundreds of machines going to infinity.
	Richard pulled Marjorie back, whispering in English,
"Looks like I work out alone," he said.
	Marjorie shrugged.  What could she say?  Another
hotel, another place to get used to.  What was the
purpose of all of it? 
	Lupita chattered along now in English, describing the
gardens, the waterfalls, the four hundred rooms.
	"The rooms have separate beds," she said, "double
beds."  When Richard and Marjorie didn't answer, she
continued, "The ones over the golf course do, where
you can hear the great crash of all the waves."
	"Si," Marjorie said, as if she knew all along that
this would indeed be the case, but these were the
first words she had spoken since she'd stepped from
the bus to the marble floor of the hotel lobby. 
Yesterday, she was convinced that her heart had almost
stopped, seeing the ghostly white animal, walking out
in front of the rocking unstable bus, standing there,
ignoring the horn, waiting until just when it seemed
that the bus would crash into it, to saunter across,
swing its head, its bell ringing, its tail slapping,
as though that slap could push it forward faster.  The
bumper of the bus slipped by with inches to spare.
	She had spoken then, to Richard, asking him for the
Spanish words that would describe a ghostly cow, and
she put them together as vacca fantasma, a strange and
dangerous image --something that could run out in
front of you, kill you.
	It was right after the cow stepped out that the
headlights flashed on the white cross on the side of
the road, and Marjorie felt herself becoming afraid,
the kind of paranoia that she couldn’t resist.  She
gave herself over to the shadows inside herself, and
she simply quit talking.  
	Now they were at the second hotel in two days, and
this time traveling in daylight, she saw the white
cross again, and though afraid because she didn’t know
what it meant, she let it float through her mind while
she followed Lupita and Richard.  Could someone be
buried there, right on the edge of the road.  Who?   
	Lupita, anxious to have her potential hotel guests
take part in the hotel services, addressed rapid fire
questions to Marjorie, since now the Senora was also
talking.  Marjorie, however, did not think that one
word of "yes" in Spanish meant Lupita should think
she, Marjorie, should  take a bigger share of the
	"Are the children at home?"  Lupita asked.
	"No, No, not at home,"Richard said in English,
pulling Marjorie along with him. 
	Marjorie could tell that Richard didn’t want to leave
her out, wanted to keep her talking, moving away from
the silence that she imposed on herself.
	"Are they with their abuela?” Lupita asked.   “The
grandmother,” she continued, translating with a smile,
that she meant to be warm, but to Marjorie came across
as patronizing.  
	"No, no, grandmother," Marjorie said, trying to
smile.  "Both of our parents are dead."
	"That must be hard for the children," Lupita said.
	Richard launched into soft Spanish, saying what
Marjorie knew without his translating as soon as she
heard the words, ninos and ninas.   "There are no
children," he said in English, and Marjorie stiffened
and stopped.  Was he going to tell their whole life
story to the hotel hostess?  
	"Then your house is empty of light," Lupita said,
with the calm matter-of-fact tone of someone in a
culture that had decisions weighed and balanced before
birth in a pattern that she could simply fit into at a
specific point in time.
	Marjorie wanted the conversation moving somewhere
	“What’s that cross on the side of the road?”  she
asked, expecting a long explanation of some part of
Mexican culture.  Instead, Lupita looked away.  “That
. . .  that cross is for my boyfriend,” she said
slowly.  He killed himself riding his motorcycle.  It
is three years ago now.”.  
	I am so sorry,” Marjorie said, now uncomfortable that
she had asked, feeling as though she was taking
something in, and at the same time, that something was
pouring out of her from somewhere deep, disappearing
into the desert air.  She didn’t know what else to
	Richard led her out into the tiled main hotel
balcony, set with tables with large umbrellas. 
Marjorie’s eyes caught the blue of the ocean beyond
the white bird cages that stood covered with scrolls
of flowers and leaves.  Two yellow parakeets sat in
the cage, their little feet holding tight to wooden
dowels.  They made half chirps as she touched the
	But that blue beyond!  To her, it seemed to stretch
out farther than she really wished it would go, to a
never-never land, past and through all trips, all the
oceans of their trips.  Past all the horizons to
Richard’s way of seeing, coping with the world.
	Her arm was being pulled by Lupita, who pointed out,
way past the pool, past the carefully situated palm
trees, to the invisible world beyond.
	“We even have whales here, Senora,” she said, then
turned.  A phone rang in the lobby behind all of them,
and Lupita, with apologies in Spanish and English,
clicked her high heels back to the phone.  
	After they checked in, Marjorie and Richard went to
their new room. Richard tipped the bellboy, and
Marjorie walked to the open balcony and looked out at
the magnificent gardens.  Green, green, green, she
saw, and beyond the bluest-green of blues to hold in
her mind forever. But what would they do for two whole
weeks in this room?  Why had she agreed to come here
instead of vacationing in Seattle, in a world, even if
it wasn’t what she expected in life, was one they
shared together.
	Richard came up behind her.  "It's a nice room," he
said, kissing her neck.
	Marjorie pulled away.  Green, green, green.  Richard
didn't see the colors.  The light and all the shadows,
intruding on the light.  The world looked best to her
when the desert light came alive from the giant
transplanted palms and cactus.
	"Look," she said, "a nest."  Swinging between those
banana leaves, a little hammock of yellow relaxed in
	"A nest," Richard repeated.
	She turned to him and touched his arm.  He wrapped
himself around her, and she felt safe, and almost said
that to him as she leaned against his arm.  Secure,
she let him get closer to her. His hand touched her
breast.  She knew she was saying yes, but her voice
was silent.  She wasn’t really saying anything at all.
	 They made love quietly, slowly, and afterwards,
Richard lay there next to her for the longest time,
saying nothing.  Finally, he asked, "So what do you
	"About what?"  Marjorie did not want to be drawn into
something unawares.
	"About our new digs.  Better than the hotel we tried
yesterday, isn’t it?” Richard asked.
	"Si, of course," Marjorie said.  She rolled from the
bed and slid into her robe.  She stepped out onto the
balcony to study the small nest.  A tiny beak popped
	Richard, now beside her, turned her away from the
nest.  "Over there, way beyond in the garden," he
said, his eyes staring far off, a smile taking over
his face.
	There Lupita stood pointing in the direction of el
doctor and the spa, and they both knew exactly what
she was saying.  They laughed almost at the same time.
 Marjorie felt the weight that she was never aware of
until after it was gone finally lifting.  She walked
back into the room and dropped her robe.  She anointed
her body with sun tan lotion.  Richard slid it on in
places she couldn't reach.  She smoothed the smell of
coconut oil over his back and down his legs.  Now they
both wanted to be at the ocean, as close as possible
to it now, and they dressed without talking.
	A few sunbathers gathered under the small palapas
near the shore.  A yellow dog and a black dog eyed
Richard and Marjorie.  Marjorie felt the yellow eyes
go back deep inside her brain to somewhere primitive. 
She did not look at the dog again.  
	Richard tossed his towel down, took off his watch,
and buried it in the corner of the towel.  "I don't
need this," he said.  "We're not on any time schedule
	But Marjorie wanted to take her fanny pack, even
though it was an unnecessary add on, hitched around
her middle.  She shrugged her shoulders, loosened the
belt a little, and followed Richard out into the
desert light.
	They took off across the hot sand, walking in the
water, running up, running back to miss the shallow
lapping of the waves.  They passed the so green,
almost too green golf course with the sparse desert
hills beyond, and headed further west up the coast. 
Beyond the jetty, the waves picked up power and pushed
their way to shore, thumping, then vibrating the sand.

	They had not gone far, when Marjorie saw shadows pass
by her. She turned.  The same two dogs they had seen
earlier, plus three more, encircled them.  She pulled
her arms in close to her sides. 
	Richard waved the dogs away.  The dogs moved a few
paces away, then came back.  "They're just touring the
beach," he said.  
	One of the dogs, the yellow one, Marjorie could see,
was pregnant.  She moved toward the water.  "I'm
jumping in if they get any closer”  She headed toward
the water.  The dogs followed her to the water.
	"They think it's a game," Richard said. “Let’s just
keep walking.”
	Marjorie and Richard were separated now, but they
tried to head down the beach.  The dogs barked.
	"They aren't attacking," Richard said.  "They're
holding us here.  Wave your arms."
	They waved their arms.   The dogs barked and held
them in place.
	"That's not doing it," Marjorie said.  "You said
beach dogs was harmless.  You said they wouldn't harm
a flea.  You said they --."
	"Marjorie," Richard said, his voice slipped from
warmth to ice.  "Quit it.  They're just dogs. We can
outlast them.  They've got to get bored.  We don't
have any food or anything."
	They stood still, silent, with the dogs barking and
nobody else on the beach.  Then one by one, the dogs
started whimpering, and then took off with only the
yellow dog left.  Finally, she trotted away, her heavy
body, swinging low against the sand.
	"Should we go back?"  Richard asked.
	"No," Marjorie said.  "I'm not scared anymore, but I
don't ever want to go through that again."
	"It's something to tell home about," Richard said.
	Marjorie felt herself slipping back into some space
inside herself where she could be very quiet and
alone, with the door shut.
	They walked on and soon had almost forgotten the
dogs.  The sea glitter had stolen both their hearts
and refused to give it back.  They sat in the sand and
watched the horizon, scanning for nothing in
particular, noting a fishing boat, a sailboat, fish
jumping and the small birds that dove and skimmed
above the water and refused to be pulled into the
	Marjorie thought she heard Spanish and giggles.  No. 
Yes.  She stood up.  Two children ran across the sand,
their dark bare feet, kicking up sand, their bodies as
they broke out of shadow and into light, so rich and
deep a color that it took her breath away.  Dark eyes
squinted up at her.  They were so close.  She backed
up.  They moved even closer.  Richard sat watching,
his face and eyes laughing as the children plied their
	They surrounded Marjorie.  Smiling, she still put out
her hands as if she could keep them at a distance. 
"Chiclets, Chiclets," they chanted with big smiles,
white t-shirts and blue shorts.  They did a little
dance, shouting, "Por favor, por favor.  It’s cheap
gum.  It's good gum."
	Even though she smiled, Marjorie felt strained.  She
looked into the brown eyes of one of the children, and
she could see such light, such warmth, and she felt
her face freeze and her lips press together; It was
all she could do to reach into her fanny pack and give
the children some pesos.  
	The children looked at the money, counted once, then
again.  They screamed and handed her all the gum they
had and left.  They yelled back, "Gracias, senora, you
are a beautiful woman.  You are a wonderful woman."
	Marjorie stuffed the Chiclets in her fanny pack.  She
sat down next to Richard.
	Did he miss children more than she?  He was always
more comfortable around children than she was even
though he said that he didn't know quite what to do
with them.  But neither of them would have known what
to do with children.  It would have been an experiment
for them, but that would have been like any other
first time parents.
	Marjorie didn't say anything about that to Richard. 
Things were not right.  For her anyway.  She pulled on
his arm.  "Let's walk further to that rock."
	"That's miles," said Richard, an expert on how far
away things were.
	"Well, close to it then, as close as we want to get,"
Marjorie said.
	They walked for another half hour and the rock grew
larger, but they were no where near it.  Again, they
sat and watched the sea.  Richard made an hour glass
of his hand and let sand flow to form a small pyramid
	"Bits of time," he said.
	Marjorie nodded, hearing what she thought was bells,
but it was more like jangling.  Bracelets?  Marjorie
and Richard, startled now, looked behind them. 
Trudging toward them under many blankets was an old
Mexican man.  He smiled an empty smile, void of teeth
and asked, "A blanket for you, senora, for the bed of
your casa."
	Backlit, as he moved closer, the old man appeared
bigger and more powerful than he had before.  Marjorie
and Richard started to get up.
	With his hand, the old man waved them back in place.
	"From my casa to your casa," he said, waiting.
	Marjorie and Richard tried to get up again.
	"Sit, por favor" the old man said.  "You can choose
from there.  It's a beautiful blanket, yes?  He pulled
out another one and fanned it across the sand.  Then
another, and another.  
Marjorie saw more men coming across the sand.
	"No, no blankets," she said to the old man, but loud
enough for the others coming closer to hear. 
	"Only twenty American dollars, senora," he said.  "We
have a small one for children."  He pulled out a small
blanket with a grey coyote on it, turquoise and red
	"No," Richard said.
	The other men trudged closer.  Bright blankets waved
in space.  
	"No," Richard said, pushing himself up.
	The old man put his hand on Richard's shoulder.
"Perhaps, if you don't like my blankets, you will like
those of my brother or my cousin."  
	Richard dropped back, his muscles were tense. 
Marjorie saw that same look on his face when he was a
Golden Gloves champ in college, coming up after being
knocked down, ready for bear, to win.  She too started
to get up too then, with one knee on the sand, and she
pushed on the other.  Her hand reached out to Richard
to stay him, to stop him.  She touched his arm,
pushing against it.
	Richard pulled away, rising, and she felt herself
being dragged up next to him. The old Mexican touched
her arm, and she said firmly now, "No, no blankets."  
	Richard pushed the old man away, and the old man,
losing his balance, went down among his blankets.  The
other men moved in, upset.  
	"No blankets, no blankets," Richard said, over and
over.  He started toward the old man, to pull him up,
but the old man sat.  “It is nothing, senor, and he
waved him away.
	 Aware of how deserted the beach was except for them
and the blanket sellers, Marjorie grabbed Richard’s
arm and dragged him down the beach back toward the
hotel.  "We don't need blankets, none, ever," she
said, yelling back at the men.  
	Loud Spanish followed them, then was covered in the
crash of the waves.  Out of breath, they stopped.
	"I've got to sit for a minute," Marjorie said.  She
looked back. The men had disappeared.  Richard
smoothed some sand, and they sat before the surf
	"It's not okay, is it?" he said.
	"You mean about the Mexicans?" Marjorie asked.  "It's
a good thing you didn't deck one of them. You'd be in
a Mexican prison."
	"I don’t mean that,” he said, " I could have taken
them all on. I mean the other thing."
	Marjorie didn't answer.  She had thought they faced
everything, solved it and moved on, but now she knew
he was right.  She didn’t know if she could face it
	She imagined her feet in the water--in the sea with
that soft warm feeling washing over you.  That's what
she wanted.  A dream she had the night before flowed
before her.  In the dream, a grizzly bear came out of
pine trees, padding toward her, where she sat at a
picnic table.  It came so close, so close she could
smell its scent, and she turned and ran, not in
control of her dream, totally immersed. . . .
	Richard pulled her up next to him and they ran to the
water, covering their feet.  A huge wave crashed
toward them, and they both ran backward, half wet, and
screamed, making themselves afraid, then laughing.	
	"Sit down," Richard said, pulling her down on dry
	Marjorie sat down, aware Richard was getting more
directive in his twenty-five years of living with her.
 She decided she really would have to assert herself
	"I am sitting because I want to sit," she said.
	"Good," Richard said, smiling.
	"Yes, good," she said, looking at him more closely
now.   He was greying at the temples.  His moustache
was totally grey.  
	"You are the greying of America," she said.
	"You too," Richard said, pulling one strand of her
hair, separating it from the others.  
	"I refuse," Marjorie said, but she saw herself as she
had earlier in front of the mirror in their room,
streaks of grey coveting her brown hair.  Her green
eyes would never go with grey.
 	They sat, staring at the sea again.  Marjorie began
counting the waves, trying to see if she could predict
which would be the tallest, the biggest one to pound
on itself before pulling back.
	. . . The bear had almost gotten her in her dream,
but then she had changed it into two baby bears.  When
she walked toward them, she saw them tossing and
tumbling on the grass.  She saw sharp, sharp claws. 
Then the bears darkened, becoming shifting shapes that
finally turned into shadows, like the shadows of the
children on the beach.
	"You're not over it either," Richard said.  We just
weren’t able to have children.  You have to snap out
of this somehow.  You can’t let some past you never
had haunt you forever."
	Before Marjorie could say what she thought, say what
she really felt, or even decide no to say anything at
all, a yellow butterfly flew up and down in quick arcs
heading toward the waves.
	"No, if it goes that way, it will be killed,”
Marjorie said, her body stiffening in place.  "The
salt spray...."
	The butterfly flew above the waves, darting this way
and that, and then Marjorie couldn't see it anymore. 
A pounding, vibrating wave, came to them, and they
jumped up, moving away from the rush.  
	Marjorie saw a bit of yellow, struggling, pulled out
to sea.
	"You have to face where you are in time, square in
your teeth," Richard said.
	"Not now, not now," Marjorie said, knowing that she
had to, that she must, instead getting up and running down
the beach toward the hotel, toward the lush, green,
green, green, and the pyramid of a rust-colored hotel,
to where the breeze would come across the balcony and
she could remain hidden from the shadows of children.

Norma Sadler short stories have appeared in Pembroke Magazine, St. Andrews Review, Chanteh: the Iranian Cross Cultural Quarterly, and the ezine"Moondance: Women in the Creative Arts," and others. "The Fun House" was scripted for a readers theatre by Baymax Productions in Burbank. Her book "Multicultural Connections: Creative Writing, Literature, and Assessment in the Elementary School" was published by Scarecrow PRess, a division of Rowman and Littlefield in 2002. She teaches at Boise State University.

Contact Norma Sadler at

January 30, 2003
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