Standing in the lobby, he wondered what the hell he was doing. He felt ridiculous. Embarrassed. How did things get so bad?
He could never tell his family about this. Or his friends for that matter. What would they say if they saw him here – wearing a cheap suit in a cheap hotel, soaking wet and twirling his wedding ring around his sweaty palms.
He could see her from where he stood. She was sitting alone at a round cocktail table, framed by the oak door that lead to the hotel bar. He thought she looked pretty, thoughtlessly stirring a red straw around the edge of her cocktail glass. The feeling of discomfiture that overcastted his thoughts suddenly faded. Without realizing it, he had already passed through the bar door, walking towards her.
She looked up at him as he arrived at the table. Up close, he could see that she had put a considerable amount of time sculpting herself for the evening: meticulously applied rouge to highlight her narrow cheekbones, dark charcoal eye shadow – soft and bridal. Her skin was translucent, her lips the shade of strawberries. Realizing that he had already been standing above her in lumbering silence for quite some time, he said the first thing that came to him: “Hello.”
“Hello,” she said, her voice soft and cool, with a hint of a European accent he couldn’t quite place.
“My name is Michael.”
“Nice to meet you Michael,” she said, extending a manicured hand, “I’m Sofia. Please, sit down. Did you forget your umbrella at home?”
He ordered her a drink, surprised when she requested Stoli on the rocks with extra olives. He watched her lips move as she told him about herself (grew up in Denmark, favorite actor is John Wayne, avid swimmer, never got her drivers license). As she spoke, he couldn’t help but let his thoughts travel far away to someplace darker – someplace deprecating.
He began to recognize his distaste for himself, for her, for the hotel, and for everything that had lead the both of them to this fraudulent moment. He ordered them another round of drinks.
After all the chairs had been stacked up on the tables around him, he asked her, “Would you like to come up to my room?” She nodded.
A part of him wished that she had said no – that this whole thing could have ended right then and there. He was drunk, tired, and didn’t have the energy to continue this charade.
It was in the elevator when he asked, “When did you start drinking Stoli on the rocks?”
After a few brief moments of silence, she began sobbing uncontrollably. He turned to look at her, mascara running down her cheeks, pressed up against the elevator mirror.
“I’m sorry, Kate,” he said as the elevator doors opened.
“It’s Sofia, not Kate,” she whimpered, walking past him and down the hallway.
He debated whether or not he should stay in the elevator, letting the doors close around him, watching her walk away. He stepped out and followed behind her.
“You know, you could have at least tried,” she said in her thick Southern accent, pacing towards the room at the end of the hall, “You didn’t even take off your ring.”
She opened the door to the room, silhouetted by pink and green neon lights filtering in through the open window. It was still raining outside.
He closed the door behind him as she threw herself down on the bed.
“Kate, I’m sorry. It just didn’t feel right to me. The whole thing didn’t feel-“
“It wasn’t suppose to feel right,” she said, gazing out the glowing neon window, “It was suppose to feel new. It was suppose to feel exciting, like how it was when we first met.”
He stood there silently looking down at the carpet, his hands in his pockets. “It’s over, isn’t it, Will?” she said, looking up at him.
Their eyes locked in a moment of earnestness that neither had felt in years. He wanted to embrace her, but was unable to find the strength to do so.