ELISE DANIELLE IRWIN - THE ROOM
An oversized frayed grey hoodie covered her head and hid her face. Her knuckles rasped against the smooth wood of the door. Sweat dripped down the back of her neck as she shifted on her feet. She jumped back when a man dressed in a pair of black slacks, matching tie, and a rumpled white, collared dress shirt swung the door open, his dark hair slicked back with gel. “You’re the one I spoke to on the phone?”
She nodded, head down, her beat up black converse safer than his eyes, “Y-yes sir.”
With a tilt of his head he invited her into his hotel room. Despite the air conditioner, the door to the patio wide open. He pulled out a bottle of Vodka from a small fridge. “Would you like a drink?”
She shook her head. “No, thanks.”
“You sure? It will help calm your nerves.”
Again, she shook her head. “I don’t drink.”
The man shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He proceeded to pour the clear liquid into a large glass full of ice and took a huge swig. “Down to business then?” He led her to the small porch and motioned her to sit down in one of the chairs. She sunk into the worn-out cushion and played with a loose string on her ragged jeans. “What did you say your name was again?” he said as he took a seat across from her. He took a small sip and crossed his legs. His black leather shoes caught the sun.
“I didn’t say.”
“What, are you on the lamb or something?”
The man placed his glass onto the round plastic table that sat between them. The ice clinking together. The condensation dripped down the sides of the cheap hotel tumbler, leaving a liquid ring underneath. He reached down into a brown, leather briefcase that leaned against the leg of his chair. He pulled out an ordinary manila folder and placed it in his lap, which drew her attention back to him. “Do you have my money?” He picked up his glass and took another drink.
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a handful of crumpled 20-dollar bills. Her leg bounced and she chewed on her bottom lip until it bled, iron coated her tongue. As he took the bills from her trembling hand, he smoothed out each one, counting as he went. He nodded, satisfied, and tucked the money away in his pocket. He placed the folder on the table, and slid it across to her, smearing the halo of water left where his glass had been. “Here you go. This is everything you need to start over.”
She reached towards it, the sleeve of her hoodie sliding up, uncovering a dark black and blue, hand shaped bruise around her arm. She tugged the sleeve back down and grabbed the documents. “Are we done here?”
The man nodded and leaned back in his chair, finishing his drink.
She stood up and scurried away without a thank you or goodbye. The heavy hotel door shut behind her with a bang as she clutched her new identity to her chest. A large breath escaped her lungs. She ducked her head and ran away down the corridor.