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Closer to Her Goal

Eduardo had arranged for flowers and a huge fruit basket, which was waiting for her at the hotel suite. Isabel dismissed the bell man and opened the minibar. It was a generous suite with a living room and bedroom, a powder room and a large bathroom. The bath had Jacuzzi jets. She turned on the tap to fill the tub while she opened one of the small bottles from the bar. She drank it down straight, not even bothering to look at what it was. It burned her throat but she drank the whole thing while the water ran, filling the big tub. Her head felt fuzzy. She took off her clothes, taking a thick terry robe from its hook on the bathroom door and pulling it on, she sat on the side of the tub and traced patterns in the water with her fingers before shrugging off the robe and sinking into the warm bath. She was about to submerge under the water when the phone rang, startling her. There was a wall phone next to the tub around a corner and she stretched to reach it, sloshing some water over the edge of the tub.

“Si?” she answered tentatively, her head swimming, her thoughts unclear. Somewhere in her mind she was afraid it would be Eduardo. But a woman’s voice, an American, answered.

“Hello? Is that Isabel?” she asked.

“Si,” said Isabel before realizing she would have to speak English from now on.

“Oh,” said the woman. “Do you speak English? It never occurred to me … ” she stopped abruptly.

Isabel sat up in the tub, tried to clear her head, almost dropped the phone in the water and suddenly became aware that she would have to take control.

“Oh, yes,” she said hurriedly, not wanting the woman to hang up, “yes, I speak English. So sorry. I am a bit tired. From the trip.” She thought she’d better stop talking until she knew who this was and what she wanted. Maybe it was someone from the hotel. Eduardo had arranged everything. Maybe they were sending something else to her suite.

“This is Amanda Gray,” said the woman. “The gallery director? For your show?”

“Oh yes,” Isabel sighed with relief while her mind raced. Did she know this woman? Had she been to Puerto Vallarta? Was Isabel’s mind completely clouded?

“We haven’t met yet,” said Amanda. “I’m sorry to call after work hours. But I did want to welcome you and try to set up our schedule. It’s a busy time of year in New York. You know, the holidays and everything. We’re crushed with work right now. Absolutely craziness all the time. But we do have your show opening in a week and we need to talk about a lot of details. So … ” She stopped.

Now Isabel moved to the edge of the tub, as if by putting herself in a space outside the water she could start thinking again, let go of this mental fatigue that had beset her. If only she had not been drinking so much, perhaps she would have been able to respond in some normal way. But the fact was she had been drinking, had placed herself in this position of victim and now was not the time to sort through her feelings and figure out what had gone wrong in the past.

“Any time is fine with me,” she said and stopped there, afraid if she said anything else she might say the wrong thing.

“Great,” said Amanda. “Then we’ll see you at the gallery at ten tomorrow morning?”

Later as she slept fitfully, her dreams were of Lita: Lita running, Lita with her arms outstretched, palms open, fingers grasping for something; Isabel unable to reach her; Lita being pursued by a man with a shadow across his face.

Isabel Part 2, Episode Twenty-Three

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