Here is a scene: snow, skyscrapers, monochrome fashion on the streets. You check into The Hyatt and add to that scene: your black coat amidst North Face puffer jackets heady limonene in the air. Your luggage is smaller than your torso but an attendant will pick it up regardless.
You know this attendant, you know me. You stubbornly keep your eyes away from me throughout the elevator ride up. I put your luggage down and you tip me a five-dollar bill. Your thick, piano-curved fingers—as I remember them to be—do not care for mine.
Here is a scene: Friday night crowd, mud on speckled marble, lobby. You start frequenting the hotel and add to that scene: a different stranger on your arm each time, sauntering drunk to the front desk. I’m your attendant again this evening. I watch your face flush red as your strange lover tugs at your beanie.
Thank you, you say. Ten-dollar bill this time. Your fingers are dry against my knuckles. I wait a couple minutes before quietly slipping the bill through the gap under your door.
The Hyatt’s rooms smell like Pledge, shellac. Our old apartment smelled like detergent most of the time. Our bedsheets reeked of semen. I make sure that my current room smells just like that: faded, acrid metal. It feels clean that way.
Here is a scene: dim elevators, dark wood and silver, slow thrum. You check in with another pretty stranger and I’m your attendant once more. You break away from your pretty stranger to get into the same elevator as me. Add to that scene: a jazz background track, you looking at my chest.
I think this is your way of punishing me for leaving you with no word nor warning three years ago. I page the front desk for your room number because you forgot. You read my nametag out loud. We reach your floor and I don’t say anything about the stranger’s arm around your waist, how you glance at me empty dark eyes I can’t tell I’m too far.
Here is a scene: room 809, carpeted halls, my pulse. I’ve developed the habit of waiting for a call from your room; I’ll always know which room you’re staying in by pestering Helen at the front desk. You add to that scene: an order of Veuve Clicquot in an ice bucket, pretty stranger.
I don’t want to see your stranger get the door, so I smash the bottle down. Foam on dark carpet. Not a freak accident (the ice bucket is intact and you’re smart) I kneel to pick at the shards and you open the door. Ankles, shins, knees, white bathrobe, damp hair. You kiss me; it’s juvenile, dry, bruising, my lips numb. How long until you can fetch me a new bottle, you say. Five minutes, I answer.
Here is a scene: lobby buffet, winter sun, my mind. You add to that scene: alone, black overcoat. I recall how clean you kept our apartment. After me, do you let the cans and bottles pile up? I’m piling up dirty dishes in the dining hall.
You come down for breakfast and my coworker asks if you’d like a beverage, but you wave each server down until I was the only one left. What would you like this morning? I ask. You quickly answer, Cappuccino. When I return with your coffee, you grin saccharine and curdled milk.
You beckon for me to bend down. Not a sound, you whisper. I can’t see the small white box in your hand, my eyes widen when you raise it to my earlobe. The piercing gun clangs hot into flesh. Other side (whisper). Clang. I’ll get in trouble, I say. You’re still grinning when you answer, Come to room 947 if you need to hide.
Here is a scene: bathroom, sink, me. You called me wasteful for collecting records (I didn’t have a player), but you add to the scene: tanzanite studs. I slide them back and forth. Metal squeaks against pus and fresh flesh. You shouldn’t have bought me these.
Here is a scene: room 947, shellac, Pledge. You add to the scene: semen, paloma shower gel, five days and four nights and I stay in your room for five days and four nights. You’re determined to punish. I’m delighted to be reminded.
When I walk out the room to the staff lockers, a coworker tells me I’ve been fired. That’s fine. I walk back and rewatch The Night Porter while you shower. Remember we used to reenact scenes from movies?
A crash echoes from the bathroom. I rush in to see your bottle of Tom Ford broken on the marble tiles, vetiver crawling away from glass in rays and one of them reaches out to me.
Outside, Lucia and Max breathe. Four people in the room, but it’s just you gasping at the sight of me lowering my foot on a shard of glass; its triangle edge stands upright.
You, drenched with skin steaming under the lights. Then I look down. The blood from my foot has overtaken the pale yellow perfume. Sweat beads on my nose.
You step out of the shower, eyes on me. I kneel down, eyes on you. From my foot the dull of a tight throat. You crouch before me. I raise my foot a little; bear-trap waiting for your hand to slide underneath.
I slam my foot down and the glass has pierces two ways from one wound, three ways as you hiss at the wet crackle of broken skin. I laugh. You laugh.
Here is a scene: wait, I’m thinking. What does our apartment look like now? Did you keep it? Add to that: did you keep my useless records?
We wash each other’s gashes in the tub under lukewarm water. You rip one of your t-shirts in two and wrap one half around my injured foot. I wrap the other around your injured hand. We should check out, you say, and I ask, Where to? You’re still smiling. You’re smiling so wide. You must’ve missed me.
We check out; Helen hands me my severance pay. You tell the cab driver our old apartment’s address.
Sandra Aliandy is a writer from Pekanbaru, Indonesia. She’s currently stuck in Vancouver where she dances to house music in her room while thinking up unwholesome situations to write about next. You can read her inane tweets on Twitter @tinycpr.