In the hotel room’s shifting morning light, Kendra lifts her head and sees a man strewn across her belly. In flashing memories, she sees him pinning her down, trapping her to the bed. His name is Stan. Maybe Stewart. There is another one, a gentle one, next to her. He was concerned with her enjoyment, asking over and over again if it felt good, did she want more. She can’t recall his name.
She slips from beneath Stan/Stewart without waking him and gathers her clothes from the floor. Her panties are ripped, useless. She lays them over the nice guy’s face as a thank you for being kind. His snores flutter the material. She considers leaving her number, but knows it’s a bad idea. What if he calls, wants to see her again? What if she does want more?
After sliding into her jeans, sans underwear, she rifles through their wallets. It confounds her how trusting men are with their money. They spend time protecting their hearts, ensuring no one ever gets close enough to touch the most tender part of their person, and ignore that there are other ways to be vulnerable. She wants to tell them that any woman who disregards their feelings will happily clean out their bank account, but Kendra knows they won’t listen. She’s learned men want to believe they are immune to deceit, stronger than betrayal.
Hating to leave with so little to show for the night, she tucks two hundred bucks into her front pocket and steps out of the unlocked hotel room door. Thick Miami heat makes her clothes heavy and wet. The cool room calls her back, but she resists. In the sober awkwardness, one or both of them will feel the need to make small talk, ask what she does for a living. Ask her name. Force her to lie. It always leaves her sad.
Interstate noise and sounds of the surf guide her back to Ruby’s Bar. Other than her rented Nissan Maxima, the lot is empty. The men drove the three blocks to the hotel. Kendra chastises herself for being fool enough to ride with a drunk driver.
Waiting for the air conditioning to cool the car, she checks her messages and calls home. Kyle answers on the third ring.
“Hi honey, it’s Mommy. Let me talk to Daddy.”
She listens to his footsteps on the hardwood floors as he runs to give his dad the phone. Kendra knows her husband will be in the kitchen cleaning up from the pancake breakfast he makes every Sunday morning. He’ll be wearing his apron with Real Men Do Dishes written across the front. He’ll be happy to hear her voice.
“Hey, it’s me. My flight leaves at noon, so I’ll be home by four at the latest. There was a meeting this morning, that’s why I didn’t call earlier. I love you, too. Give Kyle a big kiss for me.”
Kendra glides into traffic. She doesn’t look at the other drivers, fearing disdain. As she slips on her wedding ring, her hands shake on the wheel. The grasping dread of contrition, the uncertain tomorrow demanding to be righted today, begins to stir and settle in her center. Swallowing hard, she glances at the cloudless blue sky and waits for lightning to strike.
Lisa Heidle writes flash, short and long form fiction, articles and book reviews. Her work has appeared in the Flash Fiction Magazine Anthology, Sabal Literary Journal, Mash Stories, Second Hand Stories (podcast), The Chattahoochee Review, and other literary journals. én•nēad, her first short story collection, was released in 2017 and is available https://goo.gl/PNIxJp
You can connect with Lisa on Twitter @lheidle08 or on Amazon www.amazon.com/author/lisaheidle She is currently traveling coast to coast in the US seeking new story ideas and meeting noteworthy people.