Disclaimer: This is a parody.
It’s also a crossover.
All I can really say to explain this is that I’ve read Fifty Shades probably, I don’t know—four? five times?—for purposes of research for a podcast that was the whole reason I even made this blog in the first place. This idea came up as a joke, and then before I knew what was happening, I started writing it.
The Argosy Cruise taking off from Puget Sound is packed and full of college students waiting to get trashed. Jose joins us. He won’t graduate for another year, but he’s in the mood to party, and since Kate is the one who chartered the cruise, he’s welcome to tag along. He buys a pitcher of margaritas for us, but I refuse and whisper a request for some English Breakfast Tea, Twinings, bag out because I like my tea weak. The bartender stares at me. I guess I can’t fit in anywhere, I think, and instead ask for hot water and lemon. He says it’ll take a minute or so to microwave the water. I sigh and instead take a glass of champagne being forced on me by the nauseatingly glittering butterfly socialite, and my best friend, Katherine Cavanaugh, as she drags me up to dance on the deck.
“So, what now, Ana?” asks Jose.
“Kate and I are moving here to Seattle, actually,” I say. “Her parents have bought her a condo there.”
“They just bought her a condo?” His eyes widen in surprise. “Where in Seattle?”
“I can’t remember the address,” I whisper. “It’s in the Pike Market District.”
“Nobody calls it that,” says a passing blonde waitress. I suppose she’s judging me for my tee-shirt and Converse All-Star attire, even though I went the extra mile and chose to wear my most flattering pair of Old Navy flare jeans. I even put on lip gloss, at Kate’s insistence, though I usually don’t wear any makeup at all. I’m blatantly out of place, surrounded by others wearing dripping evening gowns and crisp tuxedos. Even Jose managed to find a tux, somehow. He smiles at me, with his toothy All-Hispanic-American smile.
I sip my champagne, supposing that it’s the kind of drink that one might find at an extravagant ball like the kind I would read about in a traditional English novel. That is how I reconcile my old soul with such a contemporary practice.
“A condo in Belltown probably costs like—what—upwards of nine hundred grand, am I right?” Jose asks.
“What’s your point?” Kate retorts. She is drunk, like all of her other journalism major friends. “See, it’s cheaper, because we don’t have to pay rent.”
“Dios mio!” Jose implores. “How the one percent live!”
“Speaking of the one percent,” says Kate, “You can see Grey’s tower from here, Ana! Look!”
She points, and I spot the tower—slate grey and towering above the other skyscrapers, all glass and steel, with an impressive girth and a domed tip sprung resolutely skyward. Holy crap. Even from a distance, the edifice of his empire is resolutely domineering. My subconscious does a provocative solo waltz as I imagine him atop his tower with a giant spyglass, watching me from such a distance. Who am I anymore? I finish off my glass of champagne, and Jose hands me another.
“MORE DRINK, ANA!” Kate bellows. I huff.
As usual, everyone seems to be having more fun than me. I stand on the deck, looking over the black waves as we leave the sound and head north to the San Juans. Kate, sufficiently wasted, joins me on the deck with Jose, who has somehow found me a mug of tea. I take a sip and mask my disgust: chamomile. Jose is nice, but he’s no literary hero.
“Look, Ana,” Kate says, pointing into the gloom. “Out there, you can probably see it with your perfect eyes—there’s an island.”
Jose winds his arms around my waist. I ignore him. “So?”
“So,” she says, with a knowing grin, “word is that it’s his island. Christian Grey’s.”
An area south of my stomach implodes at the mere mention of his name.
“Why does he need an island?” asks Jose, and I can tell he’s jealous.
“Who knows?” says Kate. “I’m a journalism major, and I know everything, and even I don’t know. Rumor is that’s where he enacts his sick, twisted fantasies. I don’t trust him, Ana. But hypothetically, if you were blackout drunk and he were to show up at a bar and demand to take you back to his hotel room, even though you’re my very best friend I would probably just stand back and let that happen.”
“Fantasies?” I whisper. “Like… roleplay?”
She shrugs. “Something like that.”
Before I can implore her further, she flits away on glittering heels like a character purely existing out of convenience to the plot, and I decide to take matters into my own hands.
I break free from the prison of Jose’s arms, envisioning myself like the heroines from a Bronte or Austen novel. I can’t stop thinking about what Kate said about Grey. Fantasies. What could she mean? I reach for the cell phone in my pocket—it’s a brick-shaped Motorola with rubberized casing, because I’m an old soul with a fondness for ancient technologies. I don’t even have an email address and I’ve only once touched a computer and it was only to write my senior thesis. In a spur of drunken bravery, I’m all fingers and thumbs as I pull up the antenna and punch in Christian Grey’s number.
“Dios mio, Ana! You know you can just pick him from your recently called, right?”
I ignore Jose. Christian Grey answers on the second ring. My subconscious is standing in the doorway with an avocado face mask and velvet house slippers, tapping her foot impatiently.
“Anastasia?” He sounds surprised to hear from me. In the background, I can hear the blades of a helicopter and the baying of hounds. I assume he is watching a movie.
“Why did you buy that stuff from the store?” I slur at him, remembering the nylon rope, mounting screws, camouflage poncho, and box of buckshot that he had bought on the day he chose to mysteriously visit me at Clayton’s.
“Anastasia, have you been drinking?”
Damn! He’s very astute.
“Why did you send me that magazine? Collier’s, from 1924? I’m not even a collector, Mister Grey.”
“Did…” He pauses. “Did you read it? I bookmarked the page—”
“I’m sending them back,” I slur, trying to get a rise out of him.
“How much have you had to drink, Ana?”
“What’s it to you?”
“I’m… curious. Where are you?”
“On a boat,” I whisper.
“Anastasia, where are you, tell me now. I’m coming to get you.”
“You’re so… domineering,” I giggle. The champagne has gone to my head.
“Ana, so help me—”
“You can probably see us,” I say. “Kate says we’re by your island.”
“What?” The whirr of helicopter blades picks up again. “Which side? What’s your craft?”
I hang up. Ha! I sure showed him!
“Dios mio, Ana!” says Jose. “That was brutal! You sure showed him!”
My heart sinks, instantly regretting hanging up on Christian, and I resolve never to drink again. Jose shuffles toward me.
“Ana,” he says, touching my face with his All-Hispanic-American hands. “You okay?”
“I think I drank too much,” I whisper. The boat lurches underneath us, and suddenly I’m pinned against Jose with his back to the rail.
“You know I like you, Ana,” he says.
“No, Jose, I’m going to throw up.”
He’s holding me in place right as I vomit. Jose darts away. Less than half of my stomach content makes it over the railing.
“Dios mio!” says Jose, siphoning my puke from his tux. “This was a rental!”
He rushes inside, and I feel my stomach rolling again with another lurch of the boat. I’m better prepared this time to heave overboard, but my tractionless canvas Converse slip in the puddle of my vomit, and the next thing I know, the cold waters of the Pacific are flooding over my head. Damn my clumsiness!
My head breaks the surface and I tread water, but the wash from the speeding yacht slaps me in the face. I wait for them to notice me, to turn around and save me, but through the long glass windows I see Jose and the bartender working to hose his tuxedo down with some seltzer, and Kate on top of a table, dancing her ass off. At least I’m alone now, I think, and it is some small comfort until the icy waters of the Pacific numb my legs. I resolve to keep my shoes, even though they are weighing me down, because I know if I lose them that Kate will drag me along shoe shopping later. Ugh.
My arms are tired, and I’m too exhausted and drunk to keep myself afloat as I push myself weakly in the direction of Christian’s island. I cough on saltwater, struggling, gasping as I go under. The last thing I hear before I pass out is the gentle whirr of helicopter blades.