Spinning Beach Ball
Sitting on a plastic chair on a second floor cafeteria, Bego overlooked Illetes beach. Even though the Mediterranean was not known for its perils, a flag warned for jellyfish. Regardless, she was sure to catch a wave after eating shrimps. Peeling off the jackets calmed her down while she sat in front of Adriana’s notebook. The girl that disappeared had not left a single trace. What upset Begoña moreso was that there were no traces of her life before the disappearance either.
It was as if Adriana had never existed beyond her profession, even though there were the occasional posts on social media, most of which were issued under the guise of her namesake, the model Adriana Karembeu. The latter reached for the stars and was under contract of Elite agencies. The missing girl was however less fortunate and was usually frowned upon, almost as if she was the ugly sister of Karembeu. It was not her looks that were less than spectacular, no, it was her way of talking.
Begoña hoped to find out more about her Adriana and the notebook may hold more knowledge than any living being could. Her friend had spent far more time glued behind a screen than that she actually wound up in conversation. The psychologist guessed that Adriana may have resorted to Google for her problems than actually talk to her. Google had the tendency to fill in what the user wished to know and sometimes, it seemed like the search engine gave advice instead of an answer. Technically, the search engine did nothing of the sort, only passing through existing websites.
The notebook had booted and she managed to login. Her password was easy to guess, it was the missing girl’s former boyfriend. Clicking through some documents was taxing for the processor and a spinning beach ball appeared. Impatiently, she decided to close the lid and went for a swim.
Illetes was quiet for the time of year, almost as if the jellyfish and hot weather had drifted everybody away. Having eaten shrimps for breakfast, she rubbed off her inquietude about the missing Adriana. Where was her friend and Slovakian fashion model turned programmer? She had to be honest, for she had said stuff that belonged to the shadows, beneath the oleanders that gave the isle its characteristic scent. Oleanders grow quickly, but are only beautiful to look at, for they are poisonous. Was it not Bego that, days before, said Adriana had a cold personality, only adding and subtracting, dividing each soul in front of her artificial blue eyes?
Her contemplation was cut short, as she was certain to have spotted a dolphin. Something which was sure to enlighten her mood once again, as Mallorca was prone to do. Forgetting her fight with Adriana, she ventured into the water, remembering how as a child, she preferred to swim in a pool. A pool was contained, safe from squids or other marine creatures. Today, she preferred the sea, with its secrets and opportunities. It was much like how first she learned psychology from a book and now desired to speak to real subjects.
The blue body of the dolphin was visible once again, but only furtively. From Patricia, she had heard a lot about dolphins, which were prevalent on Curacao. There were also other, less friendly creatures present on that island, but not here, Bego reassured herself.
As the safety from the beach receded from her view, the psychologist made a choice. She had to see this dolphin, no matter what. It was at this stage that Adriana and her disappearance became lost in her mind. In the distance, closer than before, she saw the blue approaching. It did not exactly look like a dolphin, but then again, she had never seen one in real life. She waited a bit and the dolphin approached her. How great it must be to be in touch with such an animal, even though the human view on dolphins was romanticized.
Just at grabbing distance, Bego discerned that what she had hoped, turned awry. The blue that formed the image of a dolphin in her head, was in fact some kind of shark. She shrieked and hurried away. It became much colder in the bay of Palma and she could no longer see clearly. Filled with dread, she saw the dark of the water and she tasted the salty water. It was like someone had pulled her, even if in reality, the shark was not interested in her flesh.
Fortunately, a lifeguard caught the psychologist in a current that was stronger than before. She was in his arms, gulping water. It looked like she was subconscious, while she did hear someone on the beach screaming. The American scene that befell her, was probably peanuts for someone like Patricia, who had endured a lot in the Antilles. What exactly she had endured, remained a mystery. Had she, as a black woman, been attacked and asked for money? Of course, she was rich, but somehow it did not make sense for Begonia. Was the slew of dangerous men not the real reason for Patricia’s troubled past?
~ * ~
When she shook off the incident with the shark, which was not interested in her personally, but did exude a cold touch to the psychologist, her eyes caught sight of Adriana. She was unusually pale, even whiter than normally, which was already albino-like. The programmer did not utter a word and looked sideways at Bego. There was no direct eye contact. Also, she noticed that some of her skin had blotchy markings, signs of a rash or sun allergy.
Even though it almost felt like Adriana had to reboot herself in order to take part in the world, she finally said hello. Bego wondered what Adriana had been up to and had forgotten about the shark. She tried to get into contact with the programmer and only now noticed that her blue eyes had reverted to their original brown color. Behind her, a life guard was still conversing in Catalan about what had happened on Illetes beach minutes ago.
As befitted this psychologist, she did not wait for Adriana to speak. She began to fill in the details. Were it not the Russians that had held her captive? And why had she not reached out to Bego sooner? She could have called or at least said that she was all right. Of course, she noticed that she had not been outside. But it was probably very important coding work, especially for those Russians. They liked code to be clean and not contain any smell. A code that smelled was bad for the system, because it affected how well the program could be executed and how well it integrated with other parts of the system.
While her patient remained silent, Begonia concluded that it was time to say the digital world farewell. It was only then that Adriana awakened. She asked for an Evian bottle and began to speak. It was not the Russians, but Bego had not been far off the mark. Indeed, she was tasked to write a program, but on her own volition.
The application she devised sent out a heartbeat. This was a signal that told a receiving party if parts of the digital infrastructure were on or offline. It amazed Bego that her friend never once had thought about sending a heartbeat to her as well. Would it not be nice to have known if Adriana was alive and well?
She never was keen to send a signal to somebody and operated on her own. Through bits and bytes, she communicated with the world and only sometimes, she went outside, usually when the connection was down. Her work consisted of joining systems together, but she could not join herself together with another being. What was it that made her repulsive to others or was she adverse to human contact?
The psychologist was busy analyzing her former friend’s character and did not really listen to the story she was telling. On the one hand, she paid heed to the unsaid, which usually gave more insight in what people were telling her. She knew that Adriana liked to dwell upon the technical. While she was talking gibberish, Bego decided to look at her, not in her guise as programmer, but in her capacity as a human. Her eyes were no longer artificial blue, which pleased the psychologist. The window to her soul was a warm brown color, almost like dried-up sand in a forest. Or the pleasing eyes of her dog, Dakota.