The Kindred Spirits Supper Club - Amy E. Reichert
Two days, twenty-three hours, and thirty-two minutes. Almost three full days since Sabrina Monroe had last spoken to someone who wasn’t a relative. Her record was seven days, four hours, and fifty-five minutes, but still, almost three days was impressive. In her ideal world, she could continue the trend indefinitely, a sweet happily ever after of telecommuting and food delivery.
She sat in the center of a large indoor waterpark, the WWW (Wild World of Waterparks)—or Three Dub, as people had started calling it—the latest addition to the Waterpark Capital of the World. The fake boulders hadn’t yet acquired the usual dust and stuck gum, the colors still popped on the waterslides, and the painted murals were not yet dimmed by years of exposure to eye-burning levels of chlorine. With her feet propped on a white plastic chair, identical to the one she sat in, Sabrina stopped scrolling through the news app on her phone when a stack of towels toppled off a neighboring table into a puddle. She scooped them up, draping the wet towels over chairbacks and setting the still-dry towels at the center of the table, then returned to her lounging position before anyone noticed. Her nieces and nephew, Arabella, Lilly, and Oscar, frolicked in the kiddie area, a three-tiered structure of rope bridges, water cannons, and small slides for the little ones not quite ready to brave the twisty four-story flumes. An enormous bucket dropped one thousand gallons of water every fifteen minutes with a clang, a roar, and a rush of wind that blew over a lazy river circling the entire room, where tubes bobbed like Froot Loops and tweens raced around floating adults, who scowled at their rambunctiousness.
It should have been difficult to take her nieces and nephew to a waterpark without speaking to other people, but she had bought the tickets online, then took refuge among the crowded tables while the kids played. Being alone was always easiest in a crowded, noisy location, and no room was louder or more crowded than an indoor waterpark on a rainy holiday weekend.
Within the confines of this humid, echoing warehouse, Sabrina avoided interacting with people by scrolling through the news on her phone. She didn’t notice the people who stood up with meerkat attentiveness. She didn’t notice the people swiping chairs from other tables. She didn’t notice a nearby angry, tattooed chair-swiping victim returning from the snack bar with a giant fully loaded margarita.
Dumb luck had her looking up from her phone at exactly the wrong moment.
She watched as the Refill-A-Rita catapulted out of the tattooed man’s hand, centrifugal force and a red plastic lid keeping most of the fire-engine-red contents inside until they collided with the bridge of her nose. Tequila-laden pseudo-strawberry slush exploded onto her hair down to her flip-flopped feet, staining her yellow swimsuit a sunset orange and obscuring her vision with kaleidoscoping stars from the surprising pain. Bent over in agony, Sabrina avoided the unexpectedly aerodynamic white plastic chair that followed the margarita as it arced over her head toward the chair swipers.
A man wearing colorful swim trunks emblazoned with red crustaceans fought back a smile as his eyes inspected the substance dripping from her head, confirming Sabrina’s ridiculous appearance. What right did he have to judge her? He had crabs on his pants. As he took a breath to speak, Sabrina broke her no-talking streak.
“Duck,” she said, pointing to his white plastic table as a cup of soda soared over them. Caught in food-fight cross fire, the man crouched under it and out of the fray. Now she could do the same.
Sabrina dropped to the ground and scooted to safety, wiping the worst of the overly sweet slop off her face, the alcohol and red dye stinging her eyes. The warring people around her shouted, more food and plastic water bottles skittered across the wet concrete, and soon tables stuttered as bodies shoved against them. The man huddled under his table an aisle over from her. Around them, the babble of water rushing, children screaming, and parents yelling echoed off the walls and windows, amplifying the noise.
From her location under the table, she could spot her charges scampering in the spraying water, oblivious to the commotion at the nearby tables.
Two beefy men shoved at each other like Greco-Roman wrestlers, hairy bellies bumping against each other. Feet stumbled past her table, knocking her phone into a waiting puddle. She snatched it out of the water as her heart raced. Not her phone. She didn’t