The Hotel

I took the keycard from the clerk

steadying my shaking hand

and stuffed it in my pocket

before she could notice.

Already the smell of new carpet

and coffee,

the ding of the elevator,

the echo of a child’s voice,

the swish of the automatic door

closing me in

made my heart shred

the inner layers of my chest

in anticipation of what I knew

couldn’t possibly happen

again.

I swiped my card,

opened the door,

flipped on the light.

The pressed sheets

white, perfectly tucked around the bed,

the phone, its chord dangling over the drawer.

I checked to make sure

the light wasn’t flashing this time,

that no message was left

for me to miss

that I knew wouldn’t be there.

But it’s hard.

The roughness of the hotel towels

wrapped around your body,

covering your lap,

draped over you head.

You’ll forever be “towel guy”

to my daughter.

And it’s hard.

Too hard.

I collapse on the bed,

exhausted from my long week

and expect to see the mountains

from my window,

but it’s just a street

with another hotel.

We aren’t in Denver this time.

But it’s hard.

Hard to not remember

to not feel that punch in the gut

that moment that took my breath away

the words you spoke

the words you screamed

that echoed across the pool

and slammed into my back

like falling off my skis

and knocking the wind out of me.

But it was you.

I couldn’t win

and you wouldn’t lose

so we both lost.

And now here I sit,

trying to breathe in this hotel

this trip

alone.

But it’s hard.

How can you not see

what you did to me?

How could you not know

that you actions would have consequences?

Did you really want this …

Are my panic attacks enough for you?

Are my nightmares punishment enough

for not playing your game?

For a fleeting moment

I wanted to light the room on fire,

burn away the memories,

put the demons to rest.

Instead I’m sitting here

crying,

hoping the salt of my tears

repels every evil spirit

that ever came between us

and leaves me and you

a moment

of peace

to catch our breaths

and start over.

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