The credit card bill Charlie held in his hand sent shivers up his spine. He knew that Kalista had spent some money during the period she had disappeared, but he never imagined it was anywhere near the amount on the bill. He had never seen that many zeros in his life, and he knew that he couldn't pay for it.
He paced up and down; the only noises audible were the tapping of his feet, and a memory of an old cash register ringing up a purchase. He could just see the numbers.
"What could Kalista have bought that cost five hundred thousand dollars?" Charlie asked himself still staring at the bill.
He heard the front door open and saw Kalista walking into the house, still looking the same as before her disappearance. How could she have done so much without anything changing in her mind?
"What's that you're holding?" Kalista asked disinterested.
"The Visa bill," Charlie replied. "What did you do, Kalista? Buy a city?"
Not more than a month and a half ago, Kalista stood in front of the hall mirror examining the wrinkles on her face. She was looking more and more like a grandma everyday.
Others always perceived Kalista as sad. She had an aura about her that made others realize what great lives they led. She wasn't poor or lonely; she just looked sad during the happiest of times. Her good friends joke that she smiled less than anyone else at her own wedding.
Kalista had worn a simple white dress. She asked not to be dolled up in lace and frills. She didn't want people to remember the dress over everything else. But, looking back, she wished she could have looked more the part of a bride. Even her bridesmaids had dresses that made others look in awe, and her dress was so anticipated by everyone that when she entered the church, the whole audience seemed disappointed.
However, on this day, as Kalista prodded at her skin to see if the wrinkles would go away, she acted impulse. She dropped her briefcase, walked through her closet just quick enough to pack an overnight bag for a hotel and walked out the door headed for Los Angeles.
Kalista felt like Madonna while speeding down the highway screaming at the top of her lungs. "Don't go for second best, baby, put your love to the test."
After eight hours straight of driving with only a few stops to refill on gas and food, Kalista heard a voice whisper in her ear, "This car is dull. Use the money from the account to get one that you deserve." She pulled into the first car dealership that she saw and parked next to a slick red convertible.
"I'd like to trade my car for that red convertible in the lot," Kalista said to the first dealer. "I have a $100,000 in my pocket I am willing to pay," Kalista fingered the envelope of money she was supposed to deliver to the bank before work.
The man became a momentary statue. He turned around and opened the door to his office. "Let's talk."
Half an hour later, Kalista was back on the road, her black hair whipping about her face as she screamed with delight. She couldn't remember ever having so much fun in her life. In fact, she couldn't remember anything at all. Her brain seemed to be scrambling in her head, but she didn't care. She was having the time of her life.
Arriving in Los Angeles, Kalista chose a hotel by finding the first one where the smaller rooms cost more than $50, and then she asked for a suite. She dropped her bag as she entered and spent the next 20 minutes applying make-up and fixing her hair, as if she was 20 again and ready to go clubbing.
Kalista drove around Los Angeles in circles until she found Rodeo Dr. She parked her new car and began to look into all the store windows. Kalista entered one and began to look at all the dresses and new styles she had never seen at home. A few minutes later, she began grabbing every item off the racks and pulled it all into a changing room.
After trying everything on, she chose several outfits that made her look 10 years younger: a cute green sun-dress, a pair of leather pants and a tight red midriff tank top, and a short blue skirt with a matching halter, to name a few.
Kalista went to five more stores where she bought with her hearts desire, getting more at each store, Kalista saw something that made her eyes light up with excitement. She grabbed the envelope of the left over money after getting the car and decided before thinking, she would get it.
She entered the shop and found a girl to help her.
"I want that dress in the window," Kalista stated.
"One moment," the girl said. She disappeared in back and returned accompanied by a manager.
"I've been told you would like our Madonna dress," the manager said. "Our display is the only one we have, but if I take your measurements, we can have another made in a few weeks."
"Can I have it ready by Friday?" Kalista asked pulling out the money and fanning the bills.
"But Ma'am, it's Monday. We could never…" the manager began, but stopped. "It will be ready by Friday at close. Will that be okay?"
Kalista smiled and followed the manager back to have measurements taken. She stopped at the display on her way out to examine the dress. It was a white more pure than life. Its satin was covered with a beautiful lace. The dress would flow all the way to the floor and had a train to amaze others. Its matching veil was even beautiful. The veil alone was more stunning than the dress she had worn to her wedding.
Kalista celebrated that night by taking shots of hard liquor in every club she went to. By the end of the night, what little thoughts she had going on in her head had disintegrated to nothing. She didn't even think twice when she was dancing with several movie stars in the middle of a dance floor at a club she couldn't name.
The next morning, she awoke to the whisperings of a woman in her ear. "This is a material world."
She went out again in one of her new outfits and began to buy everything she wanted. First, an I-pod, all the kids had one, why not her? A closet of new designer shoes to match her new wardrobe of outfits. Then, purses to match the shoes. The spending could never stop. After maxing out three cards, surprisingly a whole days work, Kalista returned to her hotel to change into a more club appropriate outfit.
On Friday, she returned to the store to try on her dress. She only remembered because she wrote a huge reminder and hung it on the mirror she needed to make sure her outfits looked as good as they did in the store. While trying on the new dress, she couldn't remember that she had already gotten married to Charlie. She didn't know who Charlie was. She saw herself walking down the aisle with Brad Pitt, and it wasn't a fantasy. She believed that she would be walking down the aisle with him, or Orlando Bloom, in just a few days. She was delighted, and it was not normal for Kalista to feel delighted about anything.
Waking Saturday morning, Kalista found herself in a strange place. She had a vague idea of where she was, but it didn't seem like her. She packed all her clothes, most of them she wasn't even sure were hers, and brought everything out into her car, which had magically turned into a convertible.
"Don't be silly, Charlie," Kalista replied. "A city would have cost much more than I spent… how big is the bill?"
Charlie dropped the bill on his desk and walked out the door. He jumped into Kalista's new convertible and began driving to Las Vegas.