She had never stayed in a hotel by herself before. She’d dreamt of fine, elegant hotel rooms with beautiful views of far away cities, and even though she was just downtown in her own little city, she felt like she had traveled to another part of the world. She left her spare room key on the bar with the man she’d met that night. He had complimented her on her smile and her eyes and he had treated her like she was special, so she left her hotel room key fob on the bar, flashed him her “fantastic smile” and batted her “gorgeous eyes”, and walked slowly out of the hotel lounge without looking back. She ordered champagne and strawberries from room service, then filled the oversized tub and added a doubled dose of bubble bath before slipping into something more comfortable. She waited, postured on the bed wearing just her best negligee and her fantastic smile.
The phone rang and startled her. She awoke a little disoriented and scrambled for the phone. It was the 8:00 am wake-up call she’d asked for when she checked in. She sat listening to a recorded voice telling her that breakfast was served until 9:00 am, and check out was at 11:00 am as she looked around the room. There were the expensive strawberries and champagne she couldn’t afford, here in the expensive hotel room she couldn’t afford. She hung up the phone and tried to keep herself together as she began gathering her things, but as soon as she saw herself in the bathroom mirror she lost it. Her lipstick and eye makeup had smeared around her face, creating two black eyes and half a clown mouth. She sat on the edge of the tub and burst into tears. She pushed up the drain plug switch and the water level immediately began to get lower. She reached for a washcloth and accidently dropped it in the now freezing cold, bubbless tub water. She retrieved it, wrong it out and put it over her face. The coolness felt good against her hot skin, so she cleaned herself up and went into the main room. Why the hell should this go to waste? She thought, as she stuffed strawberries into her face and the tears began to flow again. She drank champagne straight from the bottle, although cold, it was a bit flat. Still, it helped to wash the strawberries down and the tears stop flowing. A nice buzz from the champagne was enough motivation to get herself and her things together.
She looked herself again as she closed the door behind her and headed to the desk to checkout. Her modest dress made her nearly invisible but still she still made an effort to smile as she passed the other guests and staff, with her clean, make-up less face. Her mind wandered to thinking how many people steal from hotel rooms and if the staff would think her a better guest because she had stolen nothing and tidied her room before leaving. She waited in a long line of people who seemed extremely annoyed at being in a line. No one looked at each other, they just deep sighed, looked at their watches and deep sighed again. She was happy not to see mister “Wow, you have a fantastic smile, gee I could just look into your gorgeous eyes all night, but I don’t want to have sex with you”. She began to look at her watch and deep sigh.
When it was her turn at the desk, she explained that she had lost her other room key fob. The desk clerk waved one hand without looking up and said “oh that’s ok, someone turned it in”. She began to dig violently through her purse to find something, using it as a ruse to collect herself and fight back the tears. The desk clerk started tapping a pen on a clipboard to get her attention. Rude! She yelled at him, and he rolled his eyes at her. She signed the form and stormed out, telling herself that the clerk was lucky she didn’t ask to see a manager over his appalling behavior.
Now back home, the empty place with no husband, no kids, no pets and no warmth, she dropped her bag and her purse on the floor, kicked her shoes off so hard they hit the shelves in front of her and knocked over several photos she has been meaning to pack away. She stepped over the mess of broken glass and wondered into the kitchen to open a bottle of wine. Her champagne buzz had just about worn off and there was no one around to step in the glass or stop her from drinking a bottle of wine before noon.