Furious Fiction – November 2020

The brief of the AWC Furious Fiction—November 2020 short story competition was as follows:

  • Your story has to take place at a HOTEL.
  • Your story has to include a PHOTOGRAPH.
  • Your story has to include the following ‘blue’ inspired words: COLLAR, GLOOMY, POLICE, RHYTHM, SAPPHIRE.

***

A Night Alone

Ron showed up to the hotel with one suitcase in his hand and a forced smile on his face. The young woman behind the desk was friendly and checked him in quickly.

When he entered the room, which was drab and gloomy looking with its faded white walls and worn carpet with an outdated pattern, he initiated his “hotel check-in” routine. His routine consisted of sanitising every hard surface (night stands, desks, lamps, even the alarm clock), splashing water on his face and placing his suitcase down, horizontally, on a low cabinet, opening it up and having the lid leaning against the wall, allowing him easy access to his clothes. He took a framed photo of his wife, Cheryl, from the top of his clothes pile in the suitcase and placed it on the nightstand. One deviation from his routine was closing the blinds instead of opening them, and turning on the lights.

After settling in, Ron ordered dinner via room service and sat at the desk next to the bed, facing no-one and eating alone quietly. After dinner, he lied down on the left side of the bed, propping himself up against a pillow and the headboard, getting into a rhythm of channel surfing before falling asleep to the sound of police sirens in the distance, and Cheryl’s photograph in his arms.

Ron woke up the next morning reluctantly facing the day. He got up, showered, dressed, and looked in the bathroom mirror to add final touches. He adjusted his shirt collar, tie and cufflinks. As he adjusted his cufflinks, he looked down at his silver wedding band, with the small sapphire on the left hand side to match Cheryl’s engagement ring. He had to hold back his tears, he couldn’t be crying before the funeral.

He didn’t know how he could live his life without Cheryl after 52 years, when he had to check into a hotel because he couldn’t bear to sleep in the same bed. Many well-meaning family members offered their guest rooms to Ron, his daughter, Alice, insisted on him staying with her, but he needed to get away for a bit before the funeral.

He looked in the mirror again and asked himself, why couldn’t he go first?

 

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