Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: CHECKING IN OR OUT (hotel/motel on vacation) (08/27/15)
- TITLE: Adrift Until
By Trace Pezzali
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Sudden pain in his stomach punched a gasp from Emerson. He fumbled with the briefcase latch, struggled with the child-proofing on the medicine bottle, and upended more tablets than he needed.
“You ‘right mate?” The taxi driver frowned at him from the centre mirror. Crunching madly on the chalky painkillers, Emerson didn’t bother to answer. The driver grunted.
Disorientated and adrift in a fragile buffeted shell, Emerson struggled to regulate his rapid breathing. The indistinguishable afternoon melded into darkening gloom: trapping Emerson in his own reflection. The expression he wore transported him to a childhood memory. His face pressed to a window, watching through rain the departing lights of a car. His mother. His worth. Dad had done his best, but nothing replaced the absence of a mother, nor erased the blame for her disappearance.
Now the tears washing the window of his soul blurred even his reflection.
A huge crack of thunder sounded. A few seconds later, momentary light tore bright the sky. With it, a voice scorched Emerson’s mind: Forgive her, she didn’t know what she was doing.
And then the taxi was pulling up, the hotel entrance barely discernible in the lashing wind and rain. Emerson checked the meter, paid the driver, leapt from the car and sprinted to the entrance. He nearly wrenched his arm from its socket trying to open the door.
He glared at the woman at reception, “You need to get that door fixed.”
“Yes, I’m aware. Sorry.”
“I rang a short while ago, booked a room for Willis. Emerson Willis.” He slid his driver’s licence onto the counter.
The woman looked from the card to Emerson. Wearied gold-flecked eyes studied him from a face bearing the deep lines of a hard life. “December 1975,” she whispered, gripping the edge of the counter.
A shiver of recognition raised the hairs at the back of Emerson’s neck.
“Emerson… my Emerson. Oh Lord, how you answer my prayers!”
Emerson’s heart accelerated, he nearly passed out. Dimly he felt pain shudder his knees, a voice crooned soft words of comfort, and he was bodily assisted to a chair. The stranger knelt in front of him, gripping his hands.
Through a dry mouth, Emerson asked the one constant question: “Why did you leave me?”
She spoke to his hands: “There’s no way to say this well. I resented you. All my grand plans interrupted. After your birth I didn’t even want to hold you, but your father, oh Emerson, I envied his love for you, pure adoration. I just cried, always crying, trying not to hate you. And the years went by, and it got worse. One day Nathan came in and he saw me throw you onto the bed, and I was going to whip you but he… stopped me, and I knew, and he knew… and…
“A weight lifted from me when I left. It was ok at the beginning. Travel. Ambition. Then, in a serious relationship and finally maternal, the nightmares started. What monster abandons an innocent boy and remarkable husband? And now unable to have children – punishment and justice. I started drinking.
“But rock bottom, and God picked me up, and I’m broken but healing, and desperate for reconciliation with you, but I didn’t have the courage to find you... and now,” she looked up at her boy, “here you are. Oh Emerson, I’ve sinned against God and against you. I’m not worthy to be called your mother, but I beg you, forgive me, please.”
Emerson pushed, propelling her backwards onto the floor. He stood. “It’s not as easy as that. You’ve damaged me. Every woman scares me, all of them are you. Was I so unlovable you could only hate me?”
“No, no!” The woman sobbed.
Thunder roared, lightning illuminated the room. Emerson was struck by her pitiable state. He glanced at the storm outside, considered leaving, then critically assessed the mess in front of him.
He reached out a hand to help his mother to her feet.
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