Part 1 of 4 from a summer short fiction collection as seen in The Repercussions Issue
This room is quiet, at least. No screaming kids down the hotel hallway or city noises from outside. It’s as close to silent as I’ve ever seen. The only sounds are the birds outside and Holly’s soft breathing beside me while I wait for her to wake. We don’t close the curtains since there’s no one who can see us, and the sunlight takes her brown hair and makes it nearly red. I love her all the more for that.
On the website, this place bills itself as a 900-foot tower for two, and that’s exactly what it is. We arrived on Sunday and climbed up entirely too many stairs to reach the suite at the top: a bedroom and bathroom and even a kitchenette in case we couldn’t make it back downstairs for nourishment. We stocked the mini fridge, too lazy to venture out.
I was skeptical when Holly picked it. I’m not a big fan of heights. But Holly and the website were right; it is kind of romantic. I’ve spent all week loving her constantly, doing nothing but love. She stands by the window, channeling Rapunzel, and I stay back, not wanting to see exactly how high we are. I play the prince, coaxing her back against me.
I’m in love enough to get out of bed and dress so I can buy her something special for breakfast and maybe some flowers. I’m in love enough to even consider going down those stairs and then up those stairs just for some roses and a chocolate croissant; but I don’t have to face those stairs, because the door at the top of them is locked.
I jiggle the knob and push my weight against it, but it doesn’t give way. I wake Holly a little roughly, holding her arms too tight and giving her a shake, but I need her to tell me that she has the key or that I’m pushing when I need to pull or that the door is jammed. She doesn’t look alarmed when I explain, so I figure I’m blowing things out of proportion. Everything will be fine.
“I know,” she says, offering me a calm smile. “What good is a tower if you can leave it?”
“But they have the key downstairs?”
She shakes her head and sinks back down into the pillow. “I had the key. I threw it out the window.”
For the first time since we got here, I go to the window and look. 900 feet is a long way down, longer than I thought. I take a few steps back, dizzy.
This room is quiet because the nearest people are so far below. There’s no one to call to. The only person who can hear me comes up from behind to put her arms around me. I can hear the smile in her voice.
“Isn’t this perfect? Isn’t this everything we wanted?”