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  • Elizabeth

Rotten Secrets Part 1: The meeting

My take on a prompt where 4 friends are trapped in a hotel room for 24 hours.

CONTENT WARNING: Contains mature themes

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky this toasty July weekend. Dark grey roads snaked through the torched landscape sulking under the heat wave that had lasted for 3 days. A rabbit craned its neck from under the shade where it sat, noting the occasional passing car, waiting for the moment it was safe to cross. The grind of rubber against road announced the passing of a white Mercedes, its wake sending a cloud of dust enveloping the rabbit who continued to wiggle its nose underneath the shade.

Sara kept her hand on the top of the steering wheel, the sun’s rays beating down on her windshield, her knuckles burning from the heat. She had taken the day off work, still waking early in the morning to make her way down to the next city over a few hours away. Her husband, Will had showed her the text, a thinly veiled concern masquerading as a greeting.

“Hope you are well. We need to talk.”

They both knew who it was. Every time she anxiously awaited a reply, she would reread the number at the top of the screen to as a way to distract herself before she exited the messaging app and toggled between her social media accounts, mindlessly scrolling through images until she heard that ping. She never felt good texting that number, the entire existence of their relationship was riddled with secrecy and shame. Although she had never touched the person, her role was cemented just as deep.

She reached her exit, the sign directing her into the outskirts of the city, a 6-laned road flanked with sex stores, damp motels, and burger franchises not rich enough for the inner suburbs. Sara spotted the red and white sign, old paint flaked off the wooden panel staked at the front of an aged double storied, yellow building. Her car bounced slightly as she hit the steep incline of the turn. She hissed at the mounting damage this trip had cost her. The years of secrecy had been costing her marriage greatly. A large carat ring could only hide their issues to most of those on the outside. Tension had been mounting these past few months with William snapping at her at her friend’s 2 year old’s birthday party, causing mild concern which dissipated into whispers and gossip. Posh children’s parties and elegant homes were miles away from the partial shade under the motel where she had parked her car.

She sat quietly, feeling the heat of the mid-morning sun slowly rising in her car. She looked around, wary of the often shady creatures who frequented these corridors. Despite the bright sun, she kept her designer sunglasses in her purse, not wanting to attract the attention unwanted by an upper-middle class working woman in this sort of area. William had reminded her constantly, including before she left to stay in the car, not knowing what the reason could be for why they were brought here on a muggy Thursday morning. He agreed to join her in the motel parking lot, leaving for the office briefly to sort out some papers so he could join her just before midday. Her persistent comments of wanting to return in time for her evening pilates class was just an excuse to return home as fast as she could, not wanting to partake in the fallout of their hasty decisions. She remembered that he convincingly said this was the only way, a necessary response to the threat they had been handed those years ago. He wasn’t in the wrong, he often stated reminding her, and possibly himself that what was at stake was worth more than she was. This girl, William called her, further reducing her down from broad and whore, was an inconvenient woman. Sara's blindness to this light-handed misogyny kept her on this side, as long as she wasn’t like them, she would be in the right. But sometimes, the behaviour of these women selfishly wanting something more for themselves shook her so that the line that she didn’t want to cross appeared more like a fence.

The sun had now passed over head, the motel windows bouncing the midday rays onto her hood, illuminating her face. She looked into the rear-view mirror, the brightness giving her a pleasing complexion which momentarily distracted her from the annoyance of waiting for her husband. William had still not shown up, her anxiety making her wonder if she should begin facilitating this meeting so they could leave sooner.

As her eyes traced the motel pathway, Sara did not notice the red BMW turning into the driveway. The flash of crimson in her rear view mirror drew her attention to the driver. Lightened brown hair and a heavy jawline caused her to freeze, her husband’s friend Austin, who would carelessly reve his engine in their gated neighbourhood quietly crept to the other side of the parking lot. Her curiosity as to why he would be present in a motel parking lot of a neighbouring city didn’t assume that he was somehow knowledgeable of her husband’s past and started wondering about whether his behaviour in the past few months had hinted at an affair.

Austin’s car door creaked open, stepping out in a more causal dressing of joggers and a windbreaker, he closed his door and walked uninterrupted to the number 10 room he had parked in front of.

Sara watched him slip into the room, closing the door swiftly as to not let anyone see in. Already knowing the door was open gave Sara the idea that he had already been around for a while. Her sudden excitement distracted her from the notification she had received several minutes prior of her husband telling her he would be half an hour late and asking who she had seen enter into room 10.

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