The "Do You Have Lots of Faults Too?" Issue
by Anna Lillian Moser
She was setting the alarm while he busied himself with the drapes. They hadn't bothered him the whole weekend, but now, for some reason, they were of the utmost concern.
He was naked still and she didn't dare look up. It wasn't that it frightened or embarrassed her. It was just a little odd to see it, to see it just sort of hanging there; uninterested, as if taking a break.
"When's the flight again?" she asked, stealing a glance at his backside.
"Six-thirty, but the car's coming at five."
"So four then?"
He wouldn't really need the alarm, she knew that much. She'd be awake by then. She'd be surprised if she slept at all.
"Fucking things won't close all the way."
"They never close all the way."
The hotel was one of the better ones in downtown Seattle, with a whirlpool, sauna and advertisements calling it "a touch of excellence", but besides being five floors up and having a balcony door that didn't work, it seemed to her like every other motor lodge she'd ever slept in.
She set the alarm down on the nightstand and grabbed the remote.
"Do you wanna watch ESPN?"
"I need to sleep."
She tossed the remote onto the other bed, the one littered with their clothes and belongings.
The night before, between making love, they had watched the sports network until four with her head on his chest and his hand in her hair. He loved sports and she loved hearing him talk about them.
The infamous A-Rod.
Do we like him?
He's alright; not worth what they're paying him, though.
What are they paying him?
Two hundred and seventy-five million, base. They're the biggest franchise in baseball, though. They can afford it.
He could talk sports, but he wasn't a player. In college he'd done track, but he started puking every time he got near the finish line. He said it was psychosomatic.
"Can I smoke a cigarette before bed?" she asked.
"Knock yourself out."
She picked a cigarette out of the pack he'd bought her and went into the bathroom, locking the door out of habit. There was a box of matches beside the sink. He'd picked them up from the restaurant that night. She decided she would keep them as a memento and stuck them in her makeup bag.
She smoked and stared at herself in the mirror. No, she was not that horrible to look at. An eighth Hungarian, she was cursed with a Gypsy's face, but it was okay so long as she didn't smile too much. If she smiled too much her one front fang showed, and — cupped with her falcon-like nose— created a not so nice effect, but so long as she kept her mouth shut and poised in a delicate smirk she could pass herself off as pretty.
He could fall in love with me, she thought to herself.
She threw the cigarette in the toilet and flushed it. When she emerged he was already in bed and the light was out. There was still a thin stream of light shooting across the bed from the partition in the drapes, and you could hear the sound of the downtown Seattle traffic.
She peeled back the bedding and slid down beside him.
"You don't have to wake up with me."
"I want to."
She made a conscious effort of turning her back to him. He reached and put his hand in her hair, but she didn't move. Finally he turned onto his side and pulled her into him. He cupped her left breast over the fabric of her nightgown. It wasn't a proper nightgown, just a slip she'd found at Goodwill.
"Hey, do you think..." She trailed off.
"Would you hate it if I came up there?"
"Where you are."
"What, to live?"
"I don't know, maybe."
"There's not a lot of jobs."
In other words no, she thought to herself. God, she was an idiot. She should've known better. Of course he didn't want her there. It was a stupid idea. It was a stupid thing to think at all.
She didn't answer. Instead she took his hand, the one closed around her breast, lacing her fingers between his.
Miraculously they fell asleep, but as predicted, she was up before the alarm. She could never sleep with a man successfully. Every time she seemed to develop an acute case of insomnia.
The air was too artificial, too warm, and the bed sheets stifled. He had shifted away from her and onto his back. She kicked the covers off her feet and stared at the clock. It wasn't even four. She went into the bathroom and smoked another cigarette. No, on second thought, she did not have the face of someone he could love.
She came back to bed and touched his chest. Perhaps, if she woke him, they could make love again. His eyes fluttered open and he smiled at her for a moment, but then dropped back to sleep. Useless. She turned back onto her side and watched the alarm clock again. Also useless. She'd never fall asleep. She closed her eyes anyway.
At four-thirty the phone began to ring. He shot up, like waking from some horrible nightmare, and reached across her side to answer it.
"Yeah, thanks," he said and hung up.
She wanted to make love again, but instead, kissing her briefly, he went into the bathroom to take a shower. He didn't bother to close the door and she could hear him washing himself off in the bathtub as she started to dress and pack her things.
It was always like this. It was strange, as if he left even before he left. He was reluctant to kiss her, to touch her at all.
"You can sleep in," he said coming back out with a towel wrapped around his waist, another around his shoulders.
"No I couldn't."
He was in Seattle on business, that's why he'd come down. She was just the added bonus, the convenient perk.
She had understood before, but now the whole thing seemed to resonate. This was just something, and the something was nothing. She didn't matter, not now, not years from now. This was nothing, just a sidebar. They weren't taking it slow; they weren't marred by location or careers. She was just a very reliant whore.
He got dressed and packed up his things.
"I better get going," he said, slinging the duffle bag over his shoulder.
She would not fall apart. She was determined not to fall apart. She would be reserved, easy going; pretend like it was nothing.
She kissed him, a small kiss, and then touched his cheek.
"Hey, I'll see you soon, okay?" He smiled a little at this. "Just e-mail me when you get up there, so I know you're okay."
"I told you already, it's a regular plane. I don't live in the fucking bush."
"Can you at least let me worry about you? Am I allowed to do that?"
He thought about saying something, but knew better. Where women are concerned it's better to say nothing at all.
He left. She pretended he looked reluctant. She sat on the edge of the bed and waited a full ten minutes for him to come back, but he didn't.
She found a couple beers in the mini fridge and opened one, lit a cigarette and sat down on the edge of the bathtub. He'd left a shopping bag behind. She found the receipt inside. It was for the Gore-Tex windbreaker he'd bought. She started to fill the bag with all the towels and washcloths; all the soaps and lotions, even the ones he'd used. She stole the pens and the notepads with the hotel letterhead. She found another receipt, the ticket stub from a Mariner's game and half a condom wrapper. She stuffed those in the bag, too.
She looked underneath the beds and found one of his sweaters. She put it on, and still kneeling, eyed the bed.
Why not? She thought to herself. Why the hell not?
She dumped the contents of her overnight bag onto the floor and stripped the bed. She took the pillowcases and both the sheets. She contemplated walking out with the comforter, but it would've been superfluous.
She opened another beer and smoked another cigarette. Suddenly she wanted to talk to someone, anyone, so she called her mother, if only because she was the one person she knew, like her, would be awake.
"I just stepped out of the shower," her mother said, and the girl, very carefully, told her everything.