In a cheap hotel Andy is being forced to make a choice. Can he even manage that?
| Dusty smoke clings to our dingy hotel ceiling. My cigarette hangs loosely from cracked lips as Corsona sleeps, her short black hair strewn across an old pillow. Daylight |
seeps through the cracked windows, a persistent clock ticking down to my final judgment.
I let out a final drag and crush the cigarette in the palm of my hand. It burns, sending a hot chill through my arm. 'I love you,' she had said, 'Stay,' she had all but demanded.
Things seemed to be finally going well, a nice change. Fight, adventure, flirt, passion, fight, leave. Like clockwork for over nine year. We were always at a different place, different things going on. We'd kept it casual. I thought she wanted that. Apparently not.
'I want a family,' she said like she was talking about brunch. 'I want you to be a part of that family. Decide tonight and tell me in the morning.'
Corsona had already decided, the stubborn ox. Normally it was cute; her eyes would get an extra dark green and her lips would pucker out. I groan and slide off the bed. I press my burning forehead to the cool window and light another smoke. I can't have a kid. I'll ruin them. I've already ruined her.
I think about family life, our family life, and my palms sweat. My scarred hands shake and an old gnarled root twists in my stomach. ‘Worthless' his voice says to me, 'stupied, twisted, broken, wrong.'
"Fu-" I gag while spitting my cigarette. It still burns even after being chewed and half eaten. I smack the embers away and a quiet murmur makes me pause. Corsona shifts slightly but thankfully resumes her usual snoring.
I exhale and my shoulders sag. That was…. Close. Close? She was going to wake up eventually. I have to tell her something, right? The birds are starting to sing. They chirp right next to me. I think that's a bluebird? Corsona would know.
She's an odd woman. Wild and free with short hair and little dresses, but she hates the city. 'Too fake,' she’d say with a scrunched up nose. ‘Full of idiots.’ 'Then why do you like me,' I'd always ask. Corsona never failed to laugh. Her head would tilt, and when it was longer her hair would stick to her wet lips.
I glance down at my hands. My fingers have always been long, but now they are coarse and rough. In private I'd brush her hair from her lips and hold her cheek. Her skin was so much darker and smoother than mine. She'd tease me after, would call me soft. Ha, she would usually tease me after that. A beautifully brutal woman with a sharp tongue to match a sharp mind.
Can I really leave her? Spend the rest of my life without her wit? I'd probably have to take jobs alone. I used to do that in my younger days. Sometimes I still do when she's busy or we fight. It's…. Doable. Harder than before but I guess that's what happens with age. I could always go back to Corsona at the end of the day though. I smile faintly while rubbing my neck, she'd usually give me sass but she was there.
A pitiful whine disrupts my musings. Probably a good thing, thoughts just going around in circles. Rocky whines while scooting close to me. He's a big snuggly dog who's very insistent he's a lapdog. His large head thumps onto my lap and Rocky's mutilated tail smacks a dark wooden floor in a soothing rhythm.
I gently pet behind his chipped ear and begin to calm. I can't leave her. Not forever. I can't spend the rest of my life alone. So many people have already left, usually because I push them away. What's wrong with her anyway! Why now? Why tonight? In just one night?
"Oh Andy I love you sooooo much! Also, can you make a life altering decision while I sleep over here like a baby? Thankssssss!"
I glance at Rocky, who tilts his head in the most adorable way. I squish his chunky cheeks between my palms and say in a most serious manner, "Why does she get all the time in the world and I get one night? How's that fair?" All I get in response is a very slobbery tongue attempting and failing to lick me.
Actually, why do I only get one night! I spring to life, frightening poor Rocky, and grab my binder. One week, maybe two, that's enough time to decide! Quietly but quickly, I grab my meager possessions and get dressed. She'll be pissed, but Corsona will wait. She owes me.
It's how we've always made our way back to each other in the past. A debt left unpaid. This will be no different. Maybe it won't even matter? I'll give her some time and she'll mellow out, rethink things. She has to. Suitcase in hand, I grab my leather jacket and pause.
Corsona gave me this two years ago. She wouldn't say why. We aren't exactly gift-giving people. We aren't religious and I don't know when my birthday is, not that I would celebrate it. I hold the black leather to my chest and close my eyes. It's so warm. Then I hear a stir.
"Come on boy," Rocky whimpers but obeys, trudging slowly behind.
It doesn't take me long to walk past the front desk and the lazy receptionist with her cheap magazine and cheaper cigarette. I slap some cash on the dingy desk. The least I could do was pay for an extra night. She doesn't look up, simply slides the money into a drawer.
She's rude but frankly I'm tired and just want to leave. Winter's icy breath assaults me the moment those wooden doors open. It cuts through my jacket and even as I light a cig my face feels numb. Across the street builders are constructing what they call a 'motel.' Corsona wouldn't shut up about it, 'a modern hotel for a modern woman,' she said.
Rocky pushes against my leg, successfully grounding me. "Just two weeks, that's all it’ll take." I try to smile but it doesn't reach my eyes. With one last look parting glance I make my way into the freezing winds and temporarily out of Corsona's life.