Caught in a Moment

In the small hotel room, the air is pungent. The musty smell of damp, stale alcohol and body odour seems to have soaked into the peeling wallpaper and the cheap upholstery as if a permanent fixture adding to the “atmosphere”, and there is a cold, biting moisture still lingering in the air.

Through the cheap slatted blind hung haphazardly from the open window is the annoying intermittent flashing of a pink and yellow neon sign belonging to the strip club two doors down. Carried through on the balmy night air is the shrieking and cackling laughter of the resident prostitutes who occupy this same piece of pavement night after night

As she sits on the bed taking in the stifling night air she looks over to the dark rotting wardrobe in the corner of the room and smiles as she examines the evening gown hanging from the door. It’s the smile of someone greeting an old friend for the first time in years, out of sight but never out of mind, and the comfort of such a reunion. Now things are just like they used to be.

She gets up from her seat on the only corner of the bed that seems to be dry, and walks over to this old friend. She caresses her, running her hands over the thousands of hand stitched sequins adorning the material, and sparkling like raindrops in the dull, artificial light which flickers as the insects dart in and out from under the moth bitten lampshade.

There is a burning sensation in her throat and sinuses, and she begins to choke. She fights this for a few seconds before the tears begin to well in her heavily made up eyes. She opens them as wide as she can and looks up to the ceiling in a futile attempt to stop the tears from rolling down her face and ruining her artwork, but it is too late. She feels a warm trickle down her cheek and rushes to the mirror to fix it. She takes a Kleenex from the small cardboard box perched on the dressing table and wraps it around her finger, making sure that her razor sharp acrylic nails don’t pierce through the paper and poke her in the eye.

She fixes the damage and sits at the mirror admiring her work and studying the ever-multiplying wrinkles across her forehead, eyes and mouth. She takes a few deep breaths, tosses her blonde hair and smiles. She moves back to the bed, where at the foot sits a brown, tired looking Louis Vuitton overnight bag. Another old friend. She sits back on the corner of the bed and reaches into her bag of treasures, looking for her final travelling companion. She roots around with her manicured hand, clearing aside hairbrushes, makeup bags, spare clothing and underwear. Then she can feel the cold smoothness that has always brought her so much comfort, just like her favourite blanket as a child, and she sighs with relief. She lifts the trinket out of bag and stares at him. He is so beautiful, and she has loved him since the day met that February in 1967. She runs her finger up and down his muscular physique. In the flickering neon light he still shines as brightly as ever, illuminating the room.
She places him on the nightstand and stares fixedly for a while, sighs with a cross between satisfaction and longing and looks out through the window blind at the view beyond. There's a party out in the hills somewhere. The thudding base of the music and the laughter of those beautiful, bright young things are now carrying over and above the howling hookers below and filling the room like fumes. She takes her love off the nightstand again and holds him to her chest tightly with both hands. She closes her eyes and listens to the laughter and the music. And then she is gone…..back to 1967 and the bubbling excitement she could barely contain, not knowing who to thank, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. She flops back on the bed and reminisces. She can’t feel the cold damp soaking into her hair, making it frizz at the ends. She isn’t even in the room anymore. She is where everyone knows her name, where she’s that beautiful, popular darling partying in the hills, where she’s wearing that dress, where she has never really left since.

Jennifer Fuller

 


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