Posted on April 4, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair4.4.2014 Journal Prompt Image from The Grifters April 4, 2014: She lived in hotels. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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She travels from city to city and she travels light. A small packed suitcase of clothes and a change of shoes and a towel and some toiletries in a small bag. And a cup. It is her favourite cup, a tall thin china cup with brightly coloured flowers on the outside in pinks and reds. Hotel cups are thick and heavy so they last. She must have her own cup. And so she moves from place to place and stays only a few days when she stops.
Her name is Harriet and there’s a reason she does what she does, though it is so far back in her memory that she could not tell you the reason if you asked her. When she is in a different place, everything feels clean and new and full of possibility. The man at the desk greets her with a smile and he calls for a boy to take her case, which the boy carries though it runs on wheels, and the desk clerk hopes her stay will be a pleasant one.
She inspects the bath first. The room must have a bath and it must be deep enough she could drown in it if she wanted to. Satisfied with the bath she tells the boy to lay the suitcase on the bed and she tips him with small silver and thanks him for his trouble.
Harriet takes in the view from the window before pulling the curtains closed, and then she undresses carelessly and she sings and feels quickly at home in the new place. And she draws a bath with bubbles and she helps herself to a small gin and tonic from the mini bar. And she hangs a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the handle of the door.
Harriet is running from something she did years back. Something she does not forgive herself for, but something she forgets in the shifting from one place to the next. There is a routine to her forgetting. Two gin and tonics down and she dries herself off after her bath and she dances naked about the room and she is as far away from remembering as she ever gets.
Later, she eats in the hotel restaurant and they make a fuss over her and they do not comment on her eating alone. Maybe a man at the bar buys her a drink and he is persistent and she nods and smiles and sends back an invitation for him to join her at the table. If not on the first night, then on the second or third, and this will determine the length of her stay. And Harriet knows him, this man at the bar and then at her table, knows him without ever remembering his name, for he is the same man in every hotel – shorter or taller, thinner or fat, he is the same.
Harriet is pretty and men like to tell her she is – they always have and they always will. And then they want so much to kiss her and to touch her leg under the table. It is always the way. And though she is a little sad when this happens, for a part of her does begin to remember then, she ends the evening by taking the man to her room.
In the morning, early, Harriet drinks coffee from her favourite cup and she closes her eyes and listens to the man sleeping beside her in the bed and she feels his heavy warmth against her leg. And like that she could be home and it could be back before everything was so wrong. And just for that moment she remembers she was happy once, completely happy, and she knows when she opens her eyes it will be different and she will have to move on again.