The Real Story of Rosalind Dunas

“Nicole, did you hear!? Rosalind Dunas is moving to your city!”

“Mom, I’m not sure that’s news worth screeching into the phone about.”

“Oh, don’t act all nonchalant with me. You know you’re just as disturbed by this news as I am. That girl was trouble here, and this is just a little town. Just imagine the kind of damage she can do in that city of yours. What if you run into her?”

“Rose and I didn’t exactly travel in the same circles. And it’s a big enough city that odd are we won’t randomly run into each other.”

“Well, it’s not like you two never hung out. It happened a couple times. What if she calls you?”

“Mom, why would she call me? Maybe we interacted a little, but we had nothing in common then and there’s sure as Hell no way we have anything in common now.”

“I was always grateful when she kept her distance from you. I would never have been able to sleep knowing that you were running around with a wild child like her.”

“Mom. Please. A wild child?”

********

“She called. I can’t believe that bitch Rose called. She’s been in this city for well over a year, totally leaving me in peace, and now, out of nowhere, she calls!”

“Uhhhhhh.”

“Why would she call me? We have nothing in common. Nothing! And I want nothing to do with a little tramp like her.”

“Uh, babe… Don’t you think you sound a bit bitchy yourself? I mean, how long has it been since you’ve seen her?”

“Who cares how long it’s been? And no. I’m not bitchy. I’m realistic. That girl is trouble. She’s trouble and trashy. And there’s no way someone can grow out of the crap she got into.”

“This is you not being a bitch?”

“Brad, do you have any kind of idea what that girl did when we were growing up?”

“No. I didn’t grow up in your town. I’ve never heard of this girl before. And she was clearly so important that you forgot to mention her to someone you’ve been dating for the last nine months.”

“Yeah. Well. So, it takes twelve months before I completely open the door to my closet of skeletons. Right now, you just get Rose. And she’s crazy! For starters, she got drunk for the first time at the age of 12.”

“A young age, true, but hardly a miscreant in the making yet.”

“Let me finish. It couldn’t have been more than a couple years after that, that she started doing drugs. And she lost her virginity in a field behind a housing development with some random druggy when she was, like, I don’t know, 14 or 15 or something.”

“A druggy?”

“Whatever. I’m not done, anyway. Her story just keeps gets better. She got suspended for alcohol consumption on a school trip. Who does that? And, for the crème de la crème: She got pregnant the summer after high school.”

“She has a kid?”

“No. Thank God. Can you imagine what that poor child would be going through? Rumor has it she miscarried or something. And then she just went crazy and disappeared, or maybe she went to rehab or something, but regardless, no one’s seen head nor tails of her since. Until now. And she just fucking called.”

“Nicole, calm down. Now that her number’s in your phone, you can just ignore her whenever she calls.”

“Ha. As if my life could ever be that easy… I told her I’d have lunch with her tomorrow. I think I need a hug.”

“You’re cute. And I think I can manage that.”

********

“Nicole!”

“Rose? Wow. I would never have recognized you. You had short blonde hair the last time I saw you.”

“Ah yes. The infamous pixie cut. I do miss that. But long and red is where it’s at now. And, with any luck, I’ve managed to stave off looking old and conservative, even if the hair doesn’t stand out quite as much as it used to. And you should sit. It’s rather awkward to talk to you hovering above the table like this.”

“Oh. Sorry. Better? And I wouldn’t worry, if I were you. I don’t think strapless tops or short shorts will be considered conservative any time in the near future. You pull it off well though.”

“Thanks. In my line of work, I need to be able to pull off the latest fashions. But enough about how my looks have changed. How are you?”

“I’m well. I have an awesome boyfriend, a cute apartment and I’m the marketing manager for the Freedom Trust Credit Union.”

“Wow. That’s a lot. And you like your job? You don’t feel like you’ve sold out, or like you’re working for some evil rich pig, or that it adds no meaning to your life?”

“Uh. No. It’s a credit union. That’s not the same as a bank. And people have to put their money somewhere.”

“Yeah. Ok. I’ll give you that. And you have a cute apartment and a boyfriend. Does the boyfriend live with you in the apartment?”

“No. But we’re only a couple blocks from each other in the West End. What about you? Where do you live?”

“Oh. My. God. I found the most amazing loft in the Warehouse District! It is soooo roomy and airy and full of light, and it has an amazing view looking out onto the water. It’s on the top floor. And my roommate is kind of crazy, but she decorated it, and she did a phenomenal job. It’s just the most awesome place I’ve ever lived.”

“But with a crazy roommate?”

“Well, yeah. Sort of. There’s something about her that I can’t quite put my finger on that seems a little off. And she kind of has pyro tendencies, which are a little creepy. But she’s been super sweet to me, so I can’t complain. And seriously, you should see the view. Oh… Oh my God… You really should see the view! You need to visit. You will die when you see this apartment. It’s 1900 South 5th Avenue, apartment L. You have got to visit… Does it seem like the waiter is taking his or her own sweet time?”

“Yeah, the wait staff is not exactly speedy here…. I guess maybe I can visit at some point, although I’m awfully busy lately, and… Hey! You can’t smoke here.”

“It’s my brilliant waiter technique: if they don’t want me smoking, they’ll come let me know. And then they’ll be at the table.”

“Oh yeah. Brilliant. Except I don’t want you smoking either.”

“I’ll blow it off to the side. You’ll never notice.”

“That’s unlikely.”

“Ha. Don’t worry. Your lungs will be just fine. I doubt it will be much longer anyway. Tell me about your job.”

“I do marketing. For a credit union. Not much to tell. And that smoke is definitely blowing my way. And I don’t think anyone else here appreciates the smoke either.”

“Miss, you can’t smoke here. It’s not allowed.”

“Sir. I am so sorry about her. I’ve been trying to get her to put it out.”

“Listen, I don’t care about intentions, I need that cigarette put out.”

“It’s not like I’ve got an ashtray or anything here. Where am I supposed to put a lit cigarette?”

“Rose, just drop it in your damned water and ask him to bring you another glass. Oh, sir, and while you’re at it, could I get a Rueben and an iced tea.”

“Oooh. And I’ll have the salmon salad and a sidecar.”

“I’ll bring that food out to you as quickly as possible. And if we catch you smoking here again, you’ll get kicked out.”

“Well, he’s cranky, eh?”

“Rose, what did you expect? Surely after all your years of smoking, you’d know by now how people react.”

“I never smoked. The only time I light up is when I feel like a waiter is taking too much time and you’d be surprised at the variety of reactions I’ve encountered… You know, I don’t think I’ve ever gone through an entire cigarette.”

********

“Brad, she was just as horrible as ever. She totally lied to me. As if she’s never smoked an entire cigarette. I know damn well she used to get college guys to buy cigarettes for her in high school.”

“Well, so you did your good deed. You had lunch with her. Now you don’t have to see her again… Nicole, why are you giving me a funny look?”

“I, um, well, I might have told her I’d go out with her again.”

“Are you crazy?”

“She wants me to meet her roommate for some reason. She kept going off about how nice the girl was, but at the same time there was something off about her. Something about being obsessed with fire.”

“Is Rose crazy?”

“I don’t know. The conversation started with her telling me that the apartment was awesome, but by the time we finished and I’d heard more of her stories, I had to admit that things didn’t seem completely kosher.”

“In what way?”

“I don’t know. I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was almost like Rose would have ever-so-slight personality changes when she was talking about her roommate. Sometimes her roommate was awesome, and sometimes her roommate made her a little uneasy. I really can’t explain it. Do you want to come out for drinks with us? Please, please, please.”

“I’m gonna go with a no on that one. Definitely not. I think this is gossipy enough that you can get the drama sorted out before I need to enter the scene.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

********

“Nicole! Over here!”

“Rose. Hi. How’s it going?”

“Pretty good, I think. Nicole, I’d like you to meet Lori. Lori, this is Nicole… Oh. Hey! Lori! Weird. I wonder why she walked off in the middle of introductions.”

“Um, I’m not even sure which girl she is. This is one crowded bar.”

“Yeah. That’s the way I like it. Easier to be anonymous that way.”

“You want to be anonymous?”

“Hell yeah. I can draw attention to myself if I want to, but I like having the option of doing so. That’s why I typically tried to stay under the radar in high school.”

“Under the radar in high school? I think you and I have different definitions of what that means.”

“Well, we were at a big school, and I didn’t have many friends, but I knew how to jump out of the woodwork and grab some attention if I needed to.”

“Well, being drunk helped, I’m sure. A bit of liquid courage?”

“Drunk? In high school? Hardly. I was a good little girl. Though, admittedly, some of the people I hung out with did do a lot of drinking during school hours.”

“And you weren’t one of them?”

“Oh hell no. I didn’t get drunk for the first time until college. I barely did more than take the occasional sip in high school… But I’m certainly more than happy to make up for lost time now… I wonder where my roommate disappeared to.”

“Yeah. So how’s the roommate situation working out? You seemed undecided last time I saw you.”

“Oh, she’s just great. She’s rather particular about keeping things just as they are, but she keeps the apartment really nice, so I can’t complain.”

“Ha. Yeah. I’m terrible there. My place is such a mess.”

“Hey, is that Lori over there? And, there she goes. That girl is so weird. She really creeps me out.”

“Uh, didn’t you just say you liked her?”

“Like Lori? No. She’s been scaring the hell out of me lately. I’m thinking of moving.”

“Don’t you have a lease?”

“No. Isn’t that weird? Lori said we didn’t need to worry about the landlord. I could just give her a check for half the month’s rent each month. And rent is low enough that I didn’t challenge it. She hasn’t cashed my first month’s rent yet, which is also irritating. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to stop by and check it out? I could really use someone else’s take on the whole situation. It’s 1900 South 5th Avenue, apartment L. And weird roommate aside, the place is amazing. And the view! I swear, you will absolutely die when you see it.”

“Maybe. How long have you lived there?”

“About a month. I’m about to pay rent again, I guess.”

“And this didn’t strike you as odd from the beginning?”

“Odd? Nah. Lori’s so sweet. I trust her.”

********

“Oh my God, Mom! Rose is downright insane. I swear it was like talking to a schizophrenic. I’m not even convinced her roommate is real.”

“Excuse me?”

“She talked all night about her roommate. Going back and forth about how sweet the girl was and how scary the girl was. And supposedly, Lori, her roommate, was at the bar with us, but not once did I even see her, let alone meet her. It was just bizarre.”

“Huh. You know, I had a weird experience with Rose’s mom the other day. I ran into her at the grocery store, and I mentioned that the two of you were catching up. And that woman gave me the most tragic and confused expression ever, and then she just turned and walked out of the store. She left her groceries in the cart, and literally walked right out of the store.”

“Mom, I really wish Rosalind Dunas had stayed out of my life. This is all just too weird.”

********

“Nicole?”

“Hey Rose. How are things going?”

“This isn’t Rosalind.”

“Oh! I’m sorry! I thought that was the name and number that popped up on my phone. Wait. You sound like Rose.”

“This is Lori.”

“Uh. Lori? You sure sound like Rose.”

“I’m not. But I have a message from Rose for you.”

“Oh yeah?”

“She wanted someone to know that she’d never known real love. She’d saved herself for that perfect guy, and she never found him. She was a virgin, and she’d never felt loved. She kept hoping that right guy would come along, but he never did. Or at least, that’s what she kept crying about in the end.”

“In the end? What do you mean? What are you talking about? Who is this? Hello? Hello?”

********

“Ma’am, I don’t think this is a safe neighborhood for you to be in.”

“I’m sorry officer. I’m just really confused. I thought a friend of mine lived here.”

“You thought a friend of yours lived in a building that was gutted by a fire in the ‘80s and only has two windows still in tact?”

“But this is 1900 South 5th Avenue, right?”

“Yes. You’ve got that part right.”

“Oh my god! Did you see that?! She’s up there! I saw here face in the window. It’s the top floor, just like she said.”

“Ma’am, are you sure you’re ok? There is no top floor. This building burned because a crazy lady lived on the top floor back in ’85 and intentionally started the fire. There is literally no top floor left. The fire burned through it. It’s a shame the owners don’t just destroy this place.”

“No! I just saw her in the window again!”

“Lady, I know there are rumors this sucker is haunted, but there’s no such thing as a ghost. I think maybe you need to go home and rest.”

“Oh. Right. Yes. You’re right. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m confused. No, wait! The window! She’s up there! Look! Hey! Let go of me!”

“Ma’am, I’m not allowing you into that building. It’s dangerous. Every year, some new idiot searching for ghosts gets hurt or killed because another section of the building collapsed. I can assure you, no person has lived here in 30 years. And if you’re seeing someone up there, then you might want to start asking yourself some hard questions about your mental health.”

“But… I don’t… I don’t get it. I swear I saw her.”

“Do you see her now?”

“Um, no?”

“Uh huh.”

“Right. I’m sorry, sir. I’ll go home. I guess… um, I guess I must have gotten something wrong.”

********

“Nicole! Oh thank God, you’re ok! You are ok, right?”

“Brad, what’s wrong?”

“You look a little like you’ve seen a ghost. Did you go to Rose’s apartment?”

“I tried. I don’t get it. The building was gutted by a fire years ago.”

“Jesus, it must all be true.”

“Brad, what’s wrong?”

“Nicole, I think you need to sit. Here’s the thing. I don’t know how I stumbled onto this article I found today, but sweetie… Rosalind Dunas is dead.”

“What?!?”

“Hon, she died a year ago today when a section of a building collapsed on her. It was in the same building you tried to go to today.”

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