I walked into the East Winds Health Spa as a pale, brunette woman. And I walked out as an entirely new person. I don’t mean that in a spiritual sense. I think something inside my DNA shifted. Grew. Mutated.
Let me backtrack. I’ve never been the girly type, so when Matt (the rich creep that occasionally submits articles to me on Thought Catalog) emailed me a gift certificate for Christmas, I told him health spas weren’t really my thing, that he should pass the gift along to one of his handful of supermodel-blonde girlfriends.
He claimed that it wasn’t a big deal. That he bought the place out. That he owned it now and he’d really love my opinion on it. I thanked him and told him I’d take a look, but I wasn’t planning on ever actually visiting. Until last weekend. I must’ve slept on my neck the wrong way because every time I turned, I felt a shot of pain. I needed that massage.
Besides, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to become more centered. More in touch with my mind and body. More zen. But when I first stepped through the spa’s oversized glass doors, I thought I was seeing double. Every single woman looked identical. Cookie cutter versions of a Barbie doll: blonde, tall, tan. Like all the girls Matt liked to date according to his social media.
I didn’t think anything of it at the time. It was an expensive place. A place that only certain types visited. But then I had the massage. I was expecting a chatty masseuse, essential oils, soothing ocean sounds. The works. Instead, I was greeted with a stereo that played a loop of low, deep voices. It sounded like chanting. Like someone was casting a spell or summoning the darkness. Or trying to hypnotize me.
“That’s an interesting tape. What exactly is it?”
In fact, I didn’t see any feet beneath me, either. But someone was definitely there, kneading into my back, with hands that felt… inhuman. When I lifted my head to look up, to catch a glimpse of the person (creature?) touching me, I was forced back down with a thump. Now she (it?) was rubbing harder than before, in a way that could have been mistaken for anger.
I didn’t try looking again. I convinced myself it would be impolite. But the truth was, if some thing was there, I didn’t want to know. I should’ve left after that massage, after getting to my feet and realizing nobody else was sharing the room with me, but I didn’t. Maybe something was anchoring me into place. Maybe I was just curious.
I retreated to the main lobby and used a touch screen (everything was touch screen, I hadn’t seen an actual worker the entire time I was there) to sign up for a facial with a sea sand body scrub. The computer popped out a ticket that told me where to go and when. Fifteen minutes later, I was in a chair with an eye mask blocking my vision while an unseen someone lathered my skin up with products.
It would’ve been relaxing – except there were those chants again. Coming from the speakers in the wall. No way to turn them off. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but I think that’s because they were in another language. A dead language. One I’d never heard before.
When the hour was up, and the products had been wiped off of me, I removed my eye mask and found myself in an empty room. Sure, there were other guests walking the halls – the cookie cutter women with their perfect bodies– but still no workers.
I turned a few corners searching for answers, and stumbled past a mirror. I almost didn’t realize the reflection was me. I looked darker. Tan. The scrub must have stained my skin. Maybe it had some sort of tanning-based chemicals inside it. I really should’ve read the ingredients.
I’d always loved my pale skin, so I was pretty fed up and looking for an exit—until I found a door labeled Jacuzzi. What could it hurt? Maybe I could scrub some of the lingering chemicals off my skin before it really set in and stained.
When I disrobed and sunk into the Jacuzzi, I treated it like a pool. I dunked my head under, trying to clear my mind. But the water stung my eyes. Tasted sour on my lips. There must’ve been bleach in it, so I tried to rise to the top, but had trouble. Like someone was grabbing my head. Holding me under.
I don’t know how long that lasted. It felt like twenty minutes, minimum, but that was impossible. Unreasonable.
When I stepped out of the Jacuzzi, I had my heart set on booking it to the parking lot. But the chants slowed me down. They convinced me to stay a little longer. They pulled me back toward the mirror.
When I found my reflection, I saw a heap of blonde curls. The water must have bleached it. Could it do that, after only a few minutes?
I didn’t know. All I knew is that I looked like one of them. The cookie cutter women. Blonde and tan. Just the way Matt liked it.
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