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Shifting Sand

 


 
Shifting Sand 

  

She opened the bright white door of room 111. Brown lattice hung behind the two queen-size beds striped in blood orange, pine green, and white. Claws from the feet of the end tables dug into the golden-brown shag carpet. A dark wooden liquor cabinet displayed a decanter of liquor and crystal glasses. A lone white chair sat in the corner. Sunlight sparkled through an oval window in the patio door. She gasped. “Why Harry, it’s a lovely place. I don’t know what you were going on about. I think they fixed this place up beautifully.”  

Harry stopped, placed his hand on his hips, and surveyed the room. He shrugged. A frown pressed on his lips. “It’s okay, I suppose, Jane. It’s certainly not the five-star hotels we are used to.” 

Jane clicked her tongue and shook her head. “Now, Harry, sometimes it’s nice to get out of those stuffy, pretentious hotels. This is… charming.” She walked to the bed, sat down, and bounced. “The bed’s soft, which is a step up from the last five-star hotel we stayed at.” She beamed at him.  

He continued to frown. “It doesn’t matter, anyway. That’s not why we are here.” He turned to the mirror, slicked back his unruly hair, and nodded.  

Her smile faltered. Her hands dropped to her lap as her shoulders sagged. The clock ticked. She shook her head from side to side, then stood and fluffed her short blonde curls. “Oh Harry, you’re always thinking and worrying.” Hand to hip, chest pushed out, she sauntered over to him and ran her fingers up his back into his hair. “Let me help you get out of your head.” 

“Enough.” He turned away. 

Her hand, suspended in empty air, fell limp at her side. “I don’t understand what you mean, dear?” 

The decanter sparkled as the caramel liquid poured from the spout. Ice clinked in the crystal glass as it filled. He shot it back and poured another. “Have a drink, Jane,” he said as he handed it to her. 

She sipped. Her eyes pooled with unshed tears. The clock ticked.   

Rigid, he stared out the oval window. “I’m glad you like the place, Jane. I want you to be comfortable while we discuss the matter at hand.”   

She sniffed, squared her shoulders, and lifted her head high. “What, exactly, is it that needs discussing, Harry?” 

“Why don’t you sit down? We can have a nice, civilized conversation.” He pulled the white chair across from the edge of the bed as he sat. He patted the chair.  

“I’m not interested in sitting. Why don’t you just get on with it.” Her arms folded tightly across her chest.  

“Alright then,” he said as he stood. His lips pinched tight. “Why don’t I get straight to the point.” 

“Yes, please. Why don’t you?” She stood.  

He adjusted his collar and slicked his hand through his hair. “The circumstances at home have changed. Luanne… needs me.” 

She crossed her arms. “Of course, she does, darling. She’s your wife.” 

He sniffed. “She is, yes. I have failed her as of late. It appears she has been sick.” 

“And what ailment has she taken on, other than discovering her husband has been walking out on her?” She laughed. Her hips swayed as she walked past Harry and reached her delicate hand around the decanter.  

 “She has cancer, Jane.” 

She paused and then poured herself a double. The golden liquid swished over the rim of the glass as she turned to face him. She threw her head back, and the liquid poured smoothly down her throat. She swiped at the droplets on the side of her mouth. “She has what?” 

“Cancer. The doctors won’t give us an exact time, but it isn’t long. I must be there for her, Jane. It’s time for us to end it. You had to know we couldn’t keep on forever.” 

“Yes. Yes, I guess I did.” Deflated, she lowered to the bed and fluffed her hair. “I had hoped for more… eventually.” 

“I suppose I had the same illusions. However, it must end.” He placed his arm on her shoulder and squeezed. “I have enjoyed our time together, Jane.” 

Her head dropped. “I have enjoyed it too, Harry. I understand. I shouldn’t… but I do. However, what I don’t understand is why you are putting a complete end to it?” 

He turned. Lips pursed tight. “What, exactly, do you mean?” 

“What I mean,” she said as she ran her hand down his chest, “it that I am not someone who is afraid to wait. We have a good thing, Harry. Why do we need to throw it away? We could really be—” 

“I don’t think you are understanding, Jane.” He sighed. “I had hoped I wouldn’t have to explain it to you.” 

“Explain it to me? What do you mean, explain it to me? I have feelings for you, Harry. I don’t know if it’s love. I couldn’t let it get there because you're married. But I have feelings.” 

He shook his head and stepped back. “I’m sorry. It has been fun, but I am not in this for the long haul with you, Jane.” 

He walked to her, hand slid down her face and lifted her head. He stared into her eyes, then his hand dropped to his side. “I’m glad you like the hotel. Stay. I paid up through the weekend to give you time.” He turned and headed for the door.  

She reached out and slapped him. His head jerked at the blow. “You are a bastard, Harry. A filthy bastard.” 

He touched his face as a red print in the shape of her hand covered his cheek. He nodded. “Goodbye, Jane,” he said as he walked to the door. 

She watched the door close. “Goodbye, Harry.” A single tear rolled down her cheek. 

 

  Jennifer Brewer

  

Jennifer Brewer is from Bella Vista, Arkansas. She has been published by Cabinet of Heed Literary Journal in 2021, Adelaide Literary Magazine in 2020, and Ariel Chart International Literary Journal in 2018. Her short story, "Into the Dark" published in 2019. She is currently working on a genre fiction novel.

Follow her on Twitter: @JennJBrewer and/or visit her website: https://jenniferbrewer.work/


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2 Comments

  1. great short fiction and this journal just keeps getting better

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    1. Thank you for the feedback! Much appreciated.

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