This chapter is an excerpt from
Sarah and the Midnight Cruise to Catalina Island
Sarah is an angel and can appear in any form she chooses. In this story, she's appearing as a young woman to befriend Carolyn on a cruise ship. She's new to the angel game and a lot of things humans do make no sense to her. As a human, I find we often don't make sense either. Enjoy.
Sarah, dressed as Hope, knocked on Carolyn’s cabin door.
“Are you ready for our girl’s day out?”
Carolyn grinned. “I’m so ready to be away from men, I could yell with happiness. We’ll have fun—just the two of us. I’m super pleased you decided to join me for exercise and a massage.”
“Am I dressed appropriately? I’ve never been to a gym before.”
“Shorts, t-shirts and lightweight jackets are good choices. Is your swimsuit in that bag?” She nodded toward the small duffle Sarah had chosen.
“Good. They’ll have towels in the gym and the spa area.”
Towels? Why would they need those? Sarah didn’t ask, but followed Carolyn into the small gym area. A woman dressed with the ship’s logo and a badge that read “consultant” approached them.
“Good morning. Do you need instructions on any equipment?”
Carolyn shook her head. “Not really, but I’d appreciate suggestions.”
Sarah glanced around. “I’ll need assistance. I’ve never been to a place like this before.”
“You’ve never been to an exercise room on a ship?” The consultant’s brows raised a notch.
Sarah shook her head. “Never been to one of these places at all. They don’t have them where I’m from.”
“You must live in an unusual place. I don’t know of a city where fitness centers don’t abound.”
The instructor-consultant lady surveyed Sarah. “Since you’ve never been in a sports center, may I suggest you start with a warm-up on the bicycle?”
“Oh, no need for that. I’m kind of hot already.” Sarah removed her jacket.
The lady smiled. “No, no, I meant prepare your muscles.” She pointed at a row of machines. “Hop on this bicycle and pedal for five minutes.”
Sarah twisted her lip. Was this human female joking? The thing only had one wheel and the base sat on the floor. The gadget couldn’t possibly go anywhere. Bicycles existed in The Heavenlies, and kids who’d never ridden one enjoyed them, but here? Propel this unmovable thing? The lady might be a nutcase.
“The bicycle doesn’t go anywhere. How am I to tour on it?”
Carolyn snickered. “It’s stationary and designed not to move. Jump on and give it a try.”
Sarah obliged, placed her feet on the pedals and pushed as she’d seen kids do in The Heavenlies.
The consultant smiled. “Good. That’s the way. Now ride the bike for five minutes and then I’ll move you to another exercise.”
Ride the bike? When she rode a cloud, she moved through the air. As a passenger in a car, she progressed down a street. This doohickey remained in one place. Weird. Humans invented strange terminology for their gadgets. Cycling on an unmovable apparatus. What next?
Carolyn sat on one next to her and also traveled nowhere. “Hope, you should go faster to work up speed.”
Work faster to stay in one place? Well, okay. Sarah pumped her legs harder. Sweat popped out on her forehead. Hmm. This must be what the lady meant by a warm-up.
Now might be a good time to mention Carolyn’s love interests. She glanced at Carolyn. “So who do you enjoy the most? Nick or Ash?”
“They’re both nice. I have a date with Ash next week and was a little surprised to hear he’d been married several times. Not sure that’s a good sign for a lasting relationship. He may not be the faithful type.”
“That’s a valid point, and when a woman dates, it might end up in a serious connection.”
“True, but on the other hand, I don’t know what caused the marriages to go south. Maybe Ash doesn’t know how to pick a wife.”
Sarah bit her lip. Well, how about those apples? Carolyn still considered Ash as a possibility. What could she do or say to make Carolyn see he was wrong for her?
The bell on the bike rang and nearly startled Sarah off the leather seat. Merciful heavens! What made the gadget clang? Had she damaged the thingy?
The consultant returned. “Time for the leg lifts.”
Sarah shrugged. Guess she hadn’t damaged the bike after all. She frowned. “Leg lifts? What on earth are those?”
“I’ll show you.” Carolyn strode to an area with strange-looking gadgets. She strapped cuffs with puffy weights around Sarah’s ankles, and then attached a similar pair to her own. Carolyn sprawled on a purple mat while Sarah observed the strange behavior.
“Here, Hope. Lie down on this mat and do as I do.” Carolyn thrust a leg into the air, brought it back down and then repeated the process.
Sarah mimicked her charge. “Have you always been this athletic?”
Carolyn nodded. “When I have time, I go to the gym, but if I can’t fit it into my schedule, I exercise at home.”
A woman on the other side of Carolyn also kept her legs bobbing up and down. “I’m trying to convince my daughter to begin a fitness program.” She looked at Carolyn. “She’s about your age and hasn’t started one.”
“How old is your daughter?” Carolyn changed legs and continued to lift.
“You don’t appear old enough for a daughter about to be twenty.” Carolyn smiled at the stranger.
“Thank you. I’m in my sixty’s.”
Sarah groaned between puffing. “With this kind of stuff, I don’t know how you humans live to your thirtieth birthday.”
Carolyn giggled. “You humans? You have an unusual way of expressing yourself, almost as if you weren’t one of us.”
“People have told me that before.”
The consultant appeared again. “It is now time for the sit-up board.”
The sit-up board? Merciful heavens! Another torture contraption? The lie down-and-be-immobile board would be a better choice as far as she was concerned.
The consultant led Sarah and Carolyn to a plank with one end pointed to the roof and the other resting on the floor. “Stretch out on the board with your feet up, and then do sit-ups.”
She kidded, right? Perhaps this ding-dong mortal female was crazy. How could anyone do such a thing? “No, thanks. I’ll watch Carolyn.”
Sarah stood nearby as Carolyn sat up, went down, and back up. Good grief. Carolyn must have stomach muscles of steel. She glanced heavenward and mouthed. “Sure am glad we don’t need to do this stuff up there.”
The Lieutenant’s face appeared through the ceiling. He smiled at her and nodded.
Focusing on Carolyn, Sarah stood with arms akimbo. “What you’re doing looks more difficult than choosing between Nick and Ash.”
Carolyn smiled. “I’ve done this before. Piece of cake, but having more than one man interested in me has never been an issue, and although flattering, it’s also daunting. Have you ever had a serious guy?”
Sarah shook her head. “No. I steer away from them.”
“I’m thinking about doing the same.”
“Don’t you want to settle down and have a family?”
“More than anything, but Nick’s and Ash’s behavior may cause me to change my mind.”
“Which one do you think more of?”
“I’ve spent more time with Nick, but he thinks I lied to him. I don’t know Ash very well.” Carolyn grinned. “Nick makes my stomach turn over every time I see him.”
Sarah nodded. “Ash doesn’t?”
“Not like Nick.”
“Did Nick explain why he thought you’d lied to him?”
“Yes, and I didn’t tell him to get lost. It would be hard to do on a boat.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I seem to lose my way on this thing.”
After a few minutes, the consultant came back. “Good job.” She glanced at Sarah. “Don’t you want to try it?”
“No, thank you.”
“Let’s move on.” She grinned as she glanced at Sarah’s legs. “I’m sure you will benefit from the thigh reducer, and it’s easy.”
Why did that ding-dong need to sound so cheerful? And what was wrong with her thighs? She could make them smaller or bigger with a blink of an eye if she wanted to.
Oh, well. She’d come here to help Carolyn, and the consultant probably didn’t intend to be insulting.
While huffing and puffing on this one, Sarah watched a beautiful woman enter the area. Her clothing suggested she enjoyed showing off her exquisite form, and her cool expression plainly said, “Don’t bother me.”
Humans didn’t realize body language told a story. No doubt this female would have no problem dealing with two men. On the other hand, who possessed that knowledge? Not her and evidently not Carolyn. No matter. Carolyn’s wellbeing occupied this mission.
“Okay, time for jogging.” The chirpy consultant’s tone frayed on Sarah’s nerves.
“Where do we jog?” Carolyn glanced about her as she spoke.
“We have a track around the deck. Go through that door and begin. I’ll catch up with you soon.” The troublemaker-consultant pointed to an outside exit.
“Have you jogged before?” Carolyn focused on Sarah with her question.
“No, I don’t think so. What is it?”
“Running. Surely you ran as a child.”
“Well, I sort of flew about a lot and often won a race.”
“Jogging isn’t racing, we merely run at a slower pace.” She took off.
Sarah ambled along beside her. Another lady ran past them at a rapid speed.
After she whizzed by, Sarah voiced her thoughts aloud. “Judging from her tight, see-through clothes, she must be hoping to acquire a boyfriend. Maybe you should introduce her to Ash.”
Carolyn giggled. “You see all kinds of clothing in a fitness center.”
A handsome young man overtook them on the track and disappeared from sight.
“That guy’s shorts are too skimpy. Did you see the way he kept pulling at them? He and the lady who ran ahead of him should find each other. We saw through her outfit and his duds are way too scanty. Together in those garments, they’d become a revealing couple.”
Carolyn laughed outright. “You should be a stand-up comic.”
“A comic is one who earns a living with a humor presentation. There’s one appearing at a show later aboard this ship. Perhaps we can go, and you’ll see.”
As Sarah and Carolyn rounded the corner, they encountered a couple jogging toward them in their direction. Sarah turned her head to watch as they whooshed by. “Those two probably work out at home just so they can look healthy after they get here.”
Carolyn chuckled again. “Seriously. You should write these remarks down and start an act for the theater.”
“An act? No, I don’t think so. I do enough playacting down here without putting on a show for an audience.”
After the third jog around the deck, Carolyn stopped, bent forward and huffed. Sarah mimicked her.
“Let’s try the steam room.” Carolyn straightened her spine.
Carolyn nodded. “Hot steam makes the muscles relax.”
“You mean to tell me that after we warm muscles up to exercise, we then go into a scorching room to make them cool off and calm down?”
“That’s the way it works. This is where you need the swim suit.”
Sarah nodded and followed Carolyn to the designated dressing area where they’d left their belongings.
“You take that cubicle, and I’ll take this one. I’ll meet you out here when you have your suit on.” Carolyn disappeared into the booth.
Sarah did the same, and when she was appropriately attired, she exited the stall.
Carolyn waited in a black bikini.
Carolyn’s eyes widened to the size of saucers when she saw Sarah in a getup reminiscent of the roaring twenties.
“Where did you find that ensemble?”
“I wanted a cover-up and this is what popped into my head. You don’t like it?”
“Oh, I do. I’ve seen pictures of them in history books. The only thing missing is the corresponding umbrella. The blue and white horizontal striped top with lace around the collar is adorable. I would wear it with jeans.” She allowed her eyes to move up and down Sarah’s choice. “The matching bloomers hovering at your knees complete the old-fashioned bathing suit look, and I like the ruffle trim.” She nodded. “It’s transferable.”
“Transferable?” Sarah frowned.
“Yes, you could wear the top with shorts or jeans, or the whole outfit as pajamas. Quite nice, and it’s a good way to stretch a dollar.”
Carolyn handed Sarah a towel as she wrapped one around her head. “I want to protect my hair—brown might drip down my forehead.”
The color of her curls might dribble onto her face? She must have abnormal tresses. Wait! Maybe that was some of the gunk she’d put on her head earlier. Sarah decided not to ask, but she followed Carolyn’s example and did the same with her guest towel.
They entered a searing, steamy room. The heavy vapor made it difficult to see.
“Great goodness! This place must be as hot as Hades in the Underworld. I’ve never been there, but this is a taste of it right here and now.”
Carolyn giggled again. “You’re hilarious. We’ll stay a few minutes and then shower.” She chose a bench, and Sarah rested next to her.
A lady entered, spread her towel on the bench, and then sat on a bench opposite them. “I understand one can catch sex-related social diseases in these germy places. A clean surface makes me feel better.”
Sarah didn’t know what they were, but social diseases must be connected with freewill and sin, and one bad experience with seasick pills was enough. She needed no reminder to be careful with human illnesses. Sarah stood, removed her towel, placed it on the bench and parked herself on top of it. “I’ll just sit on mine too. I don’t worry about my hair.”
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