“Who We Wanted to Be”- A short, fictional scribble.

18 Aug

“Do you want to get a room tonight?”
My breath exhales and my mouth, tongue, and teeth form a word before I have the chance to.

Three drinks, one cab, and ten minutes later. I’m in some hotel lobby, looking at some candy dispenser, as he talks to the woman behind the counter.
Her voice is low. “So, you just want to stay one night?”
“Yes,” I think, heart beating faster, “Yes! Only one night.”
I put my left hand to the candy dispenser, wishing I had a quarter. My ring finger has a thin tan line that is barely noticeable to someone who isn’t looking for proof of all of my life’s broken promises.

I only have my purse, no luggage. I’m in a short black dress, hair slowly getting limp. He’s in a loosened tie and black shoes that make me feel like I’m with someone important. Maybe that’s why my mouth said yes. Maybe I just felt guilty- he did buy me a ton of drinks. Maybe I was just thirsty. Maybe he’s really hot. Maybe I’m lucky. Maybe he’ll fall in love with me. Maybe I’m just lonely. Maybe I’m pathetic.

I pull the front of my dress down another half inch, and shove the under wiring of my bra further beneath my breasts, hoping that the small trick will do something.

It doesn’t.

Room 3908, a room with one bed. None of those numbers have any significance to me. A good night or a bad night, I can’t tell from his body language or face, and now these meaningless numbers aren’t helping either.

I put my purse on the bed and look around. He closes the door. It’s quiet. There’s a sad excuse of painted “art” posted above the bed in a cheap gold frame. I look down at my breasts. Thanks for nothing, “miracle bra.” He comes around to face me.

“Are you tired?”
“I got a room with a balcony.” He points.
He wants to do it on the balcony? I mean… yeah, sure, okay… But couldn’t we just do this thing in the bed like normal adults who stay in cheap hotels with business men they just met?

He leads the way. It’s warmer than I thought it would be, and I put my elbows on the railing and look down. We’re pretty far up, and the city lights look like distant camera flashes in super bowl stadium seats. He stands beside me, arm not touching mine. “Are you cold?”
“I’m fine.”
“Can I get you anything?”
He sounds almost desperate for me to give him something to do.
“My feet hurt.”
It comes out before I have a chance to filter it. Great. “My feet hurt?” Sex-Y. But it’s true, they hurt, all from these stupid shoes that Natalie SWORE would get me laid. So far, the shoes have done nothing but make me pay 45 dollars for blisters.

He laughs and tells me to take off my shoes and I shrink three inches. I didn’t realize he was so tall. I also didn’t realize that the 45 dollar shoes came with free confidence until they were kicked off to the side.
“Stay here,” he tells me, and rushes inside. I swear, if this guy comes back with a foot bath I’ll either A. propose or B. question his sexuality and leave. I mean, seriously, what does it take for a single, hard-working, semi-attractive woman to have a one-night-stand? Is this how it all works?

He comes through the glass doorway looking like Frosty the Cheap-hotel-bedding man. He’s a puffed up sphere of blankets, pillows, and general fluff. All I can see are his muscular arms, clasped in front, his turned-sideways face covered behind the mountain of our used-to-be bed. He throws the fluff on the balcony floor.

“What’re you doing?”
“Making you a fort.”

I stand and watch while he turns the balcony chairs back-to-back, five feet apart. He then puts the pillows and sheets under the chairs, and takes the nasty comforter and slides it over the chairs and onto the railing, making a tent. He lifts up the side flap and says, “After you.” He’s beaming like a five year old. I don’t know whether to think it’s cute, or to laugh, or to ask him if I can get HIM anything… like medication. I decide on a combination of the first two.

Under the fort we peer through the black vertical railing of the balcony out into the deep sky. “I feel like I’m a prisoner,” I say, hands firm on the railing. He still doesn’t touch me.
“Isn’t this great?”
I giggle, despite myself. “Sure.”
A voice in the back of my mind keeps whispering, “WHEN are we going to do it? Let’s just get this over with. Enough with the fort.”

“So…I have a confession to make.” He says this while unlacing his important black shoes. He kicks them off to the side, resting next to my red heels.
Okay, I coach myself. What’s the worst thing he could possibly say right now, in this moment? That he’s married? I don’t give a shit. He’s gay? …Not again. Then, something I heard from one of those health commercials comes to mind: “I have genital herpes!” My hands begin to sweat.
“I…” he laughs at himself. “It’s just that I…”
“I don’t really, you know, usually do this.”
“You don’t usually make forts for women who you take to cheap hotels?”
“No,” he laughs again, and I see him wringing his fingers together. “I don’t usually take women to cheap hotels, period.”
For a second I almost hope he says that he usually spends more money than this, but I know what he really means.

I just stare at him.

The ONE time I let my inhibitions go and decide to DO something about my stagnant, pathetic love life, the guy I let take me home is a one night stand VIRGIN. I can’t handle this. One one night stand virgin is enough for one experience, thank you very much. I need someone who has DONE this before, who knows how to act, what to do, where to go, how long between closing the door and having sex is appropriate…

I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say anything. I just sit there, staring out at the city.
“I’m sorry,” he says, growing serious. “I don’t know what you are expecting….Okay, actually, that’s a lie, and I know what you’re expecting, it’s just… I don’t usually do this, so you may have to talk me through some of it.”
“Me? Talk you through this?”
He nods.
I can’t help it- I burst out laughing. He looks at me, not sure what to do, and that only makes me laugh harder. I can’t wait to tell Natalie that the shoes have nothing to do with how unlucky I am. No matter WHAT I do… I can’t get laid.

“What’s so funny?”
“What’s so funny? I’ll tell you what’s funny. What’s funny is my life. Period. I haven’t had sex since my last relationship, which ended in the spring of… a long time ago. And I’m not the type of girl who just, you know, goes home with a man she meets in the same night. What’s funny is that my girlfriend Natalie made me buy those 45 dollar shoes over there, swearing that they would get me laid. They hurt my feet and here I am, sitting under a fricken’ FORT with a man who has never done this before, either! What’s funny is that… no matter what I do, nothing I want to happen ever happens. What’s funny is that my life is pathetic. …I’m pathetic.”

The wind blows and the sides of the fort sway in, like we’re in the belly of an exhaling whale. My bitterness is gone. What’s left is red, chipped fingernail polish, dry lips, and my head on my knees. I see myself from outside myself- a lonely, pathetic, aging girl who doesn’t know how to handle heartache, or herself. A sad excuse of a woman in a push up bra, hoping that a quick dip into something new will jump start her life again, when in reality, the quick dip would have turned into a black pool of tar that sucks her down into it and won’t let her out.

“You’re not pathetic.”
His voice reminds me that he’s beside me. “What?”
“You’re not pathetic.”
I sigh. “Thanks, but no offense, I don’t think you know me.”
“Everybody wants to get laid with no strings attached at one point or another,” he says calmly. “Everybody except for me. Now who’s pathetic? You know, I thought I could try this, I thought every single business man has nights like these, you know? They do. Even some of the one’s who aren’t single do! So why can’t I? And I saw you at the bar, and you looked friendly and beautiful and understanding, and I thought, ‘Well, if I’m ever going to do this, she’d be the one I’d want to do it with.’ So I bought you drinks and talked to you and got you to come back here with me. But I don’t think I can just have sex with you.”
I wince. “Are you a virgin?”
He laughs, hard. “No! Of course not, do I seem like it? It’s just, I tend to fall in love with women pretty easily, and I don’t feel like going through all of that again, you know?”
I say nothing.
“GOD!” He erupts. “WHY can’t I just be an asshole, like every other guy in the world!? Why do I have to be the type of guy who wants to LEARN something about the woman I’m about to screw?”

We’re silent for literally three minutes, each of us drowning in our own self pity.

“Well… ” I mutter. “Now what?”
The sexy atmosphere is completely gone, now that we know just how lame we both are. I can feel the disappointment spread from my heart to my thighs. Then again, that could be the feeling of relief.
“Hey,” He says, voice a bit smoother. He puts his hand to my bare shoulder, then to my neck. “Let’s just sit here and talk, okay? No pressure.” His thumb rubs my jawline. “And if one thing leads to another, then so be it… Obviously I won’t object. I mean, look at you. I just don’t want to do anything that either of us will regret in the morning.”

We sit in silence like that for a while, his hand on my neck, rubbing my chin. I slowly lean into his touch.

We talk about our families. We talk about prom nights from lives past, hobbies, jobs, friends, lovers, enemies, dreams, goals, and disappointments. We talk about favorite foods, politics, and sibling rivalries. I grab my ipod from my purse and show him my favorite artists. He tells me about the recent death of his dog. I confess that a man with money turns me on. He confesses that a woman with small breasts does it for him. (I don’t know whether to be insulted or flattered.) He tells me how he tripped and fell in front of his boss, spilling coffee all over the office. I tell him that my diet plans never seem to work out. He says he hasn’t been to the circus, not once. I tell him that I’ve always wanted to go to India, and how my job as a women’s magazine writer sometimes makes me want to either A. kill myself, or B. get a sex change. He jokes that he’ll never be successful, but I hear the fear in his voice. And I like him all the more for it.

In fact, the more we talk, the more my thighs calm down and my coma heart starts to wake up. And when the sun peeks over the distant horizon, I realize that I’ve just spend all night talking to a man who isn’t all that different from myself.

I yawn, despite my efforts not to.
“Are you sleepy?” he asks.
I yawn again.
“Me too, ” he chuckles. “Come on.”
He gets out of the fort and drags the blankets and pillows back inside. I grab our shoes and shut the door. The sun is growing brighter through the open window, so I pull the long, hanging blinds shut. They shake and sway against each other, making a somewhat comforting sound, paired with flashing slices of morning sun.

When I turn around, he’s sitting on the bed, blankets inviting, without his shirt on. His muscles are way better than his dress shirt gave him credit for. I feel my thighs twitch awake again while my heart stands lock-kneed still, staring, unsure of what this means. “Come to bed,” he murmurs.

I unzip my dress and step out of it, revealing my small breasts and less than defined stomach. I tell the part of my brain that controls insecurity to shut up and I move to his side. He takes my hand. I slide in next to him as he pulls the cold sheet over us. He wraps his body against mine, and I realize that to anyone else, we must look like lovers. We must look like the sexy, free spirited grown-ups who we wanted to be. And I realize, as he breathes, “Good morning…” into my ear, that this is probably the best one night stand I’ll ever have.


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