STORY: Lost in Faraway Tanzania

“Betsey… Betsey… where did you go today, Betsey?”

Andrew’s voice carries through the apartment, but the writer is too far away to hear it. As he steps into the bedroom, he suddenly finds himself walking down a beach alone at sunset instead. In the distance he can see a lone white cabana on the beach with two silhouettes inside. One of them seems to disappear as he approaches it from behind. When he reaches it, he finds Liz stretched out in a red beach kimono with a golden retriever puppy curled up at her feet. She looks up at Andrew with sleepy eyes and promptly puts her head back down without acknowledging him.

“Where did you take me this time, baby?” Andrew asks as he sits down in the cabana next to Liz. She turns her head slightly to answer him but does not open her eyes.

“We’re on the island of Zanzibar in faraway Tanzania,” she answers dully, as if it were plain as day.

Andrew smiles wide and chuckles down at her.

“And what are we doing in faraway Tanzania?”

“We’re going on safari,” Liz says. “We’re going to visit the Ngorogoro Crater, climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, and watch The Great Migration from a hot air ballon. Technically speaking, we’ve already done all of that. That’s why I’m so tired. The relaxing island retreat on Zanzibar is the last item on the to-do list. That’s where we are now.”

Andrew chuckles again and pats Liz on the head lightly.

“Your delusional fantasy world is wild,” he says, shaking his head. “I can see why you like to come here.”

“I’m supposed to be in the other world today. The real world. I couldn’t find my way out of here. I wandered around lost in the desert for awhile, then finally found this oasis and fell asleep here. That’s when you found me.”

“How do you know I’m not a mirage?”

Liz giggles to herself.

“You probably are. No doubt you are some evil desert spirit disguising yourself as a handsome man to trick me. You’re here to lure me off my path into the darkness where you can devour my soul. I know what you are, mister. You won’t get me.”

Liz shakes her head and sets it back down on the pillow. She turns away from Andrew and curls up comfortably on the cushioned lawn chair. Andrew sighs and looks down at her.

“You wandered off your own path by yourself,” he says gently. “I came out here to find you, retrieve you, and set you back on the right track.”

“A likely story… and from a married man, no less. Haha, what a cruel joke all of this is.”

“Come on, honey,” Andrew says impatiently. “It’s time to come back to reality now. You can’t be skipping out on work like this.”

“I didn’t skip work,” Liz argues, bolting up in place. She pulls out a huge purple binder stuffed to the brim with loose leaf pages. “I just don’t get paid for it. Besides, I can’t leave this world now. I’m on the brink of another creative burst. Just let me stay out here a little bit longer. I can get it done. I just need more time.”

“And what will you do when they throw you out on the street? How will you survive then?”

“They won’t do that to me. I can stay here longer. I know I can. Just let me finish up in here.”

Andrew looks down at the young woman before him sadly and sighs heavily at his hopeless realization.

“You just want to stay in your own little world all day and write, don’t you?”

“It’s not that I want to, darling. It’s that I keep getting stuck here and can’t find my way out. It’s like Groundhog Day. No matter what I do, I can’t find my way out of the loop. Help me find my way out of the loop.”

Andrew takes Liz by the hand and drags her back into reality. The beach dissolves around them as they find themselves back in the bedroom of Betsey’s apartment. Andrew shakes Liz until she starts to snap out of it. The image of Andrew fades away as Betsey suddenly wakes up in her apartment alone. When she looks at the clock, she discovers she is in danger of losing yet another part-time job. She turns off the phone with indifference and promptly goes back to sleep.

The End

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