The Motel Rest Haven

Legs split open.

Comforter like the plastic foam covering that used to come with cartoned eggs. Nickel sized burn marks cracked, exposing white cotton ball stuffing. Scratch the underside of finger-pads. Sheets itch. Invisible bugs pluck at leg hairs that didn't get shaven.

Staring up straight.

Jerking with the groans of springs. The splotched ceiling. Cobwebbed spackle. A rattling sigh of a fan circles around its own dancing chain. Back to the jerking. Squeak-squeak of the bed, the head-board's edge against the papered wall. The mirror reflects his back, the unkempt space between his head and his neck. Tornado shapes of hair fragments. His ass cracked in half. Kneed lunges into nowhere. The curtained window is forced visible from the fan below it. A noise like my father clearing his throat. Then headlights flooding the room. I can see us washed in urine-colored light, my black eyeballs pierced with a dot of light that is me seeing you seeing me. Watching with my left cheek against the rough bleach treated sheets. Making my eyes small when it's sharp.

Breasts splayed. Knees tabled.

The chip, chip, chip-chip, chipping away. The yielding. Fan sputters out. The room is blind except for spots of light I try to make into things I saw before. Faster. Where should I look. His face comes up now and then. Mouth puckered like just letting out a whistle. A rodent flash of teeth. Eyebrows veed. Sweat beading the face. Wetting neck, chest.

A hair that's trapped between my head and my shoulder.

His nose under my chin. The huh-huh, huh-huh heartbeat pattern of breath. Another sound, that if you try to replicate, comes only from the very top back of your throat. Whispered growls. Internal yawns. The plastic rub raw burn feeling. Inching up the mattress. Clumps of sand-papered felt blanket in palms. Slipping into rhythm. Watching, now with my right cheek on the mattress. A shadow of us intersects and pulses. Tents and flattens.

Legs pushed wider apart. Straight up. Against my chest. Ankles grabbed.

Watching him with his eyes closed. The whole place heavy with him. All on my ribs. When I concentrate, I can hear myself. Participating. Sounding like a strangled baby chick. Someone's smoke seeps into the room. Cold orange cowboy. The hum of his voice underneath the door, with spaces and gaps for his breath to suck and push out. Whistling. Maybe fingering a quarter in his pocket. Maybe a knife. Looking at a little picture of a little girl who's now old. He's coming soon. I can tell by the way he's digging nubs of fingers into my shoulder bones. The quickness of questions. Yes, I like that. The weight bearing heavier and heavier. His palms on my hair. Swirling my scalp.

My head surfacing, sucking breath through a tiny hole created by his right arm's bent elbow.

Pulling myself on top. Taking control. My very own discontent. Rolling back. Breathing. Pushing his stubble into the nape of my neck. Heaving. Small sob sounds. A cartoon scream when the volume's low.
His tilted head.

A sweaty hand holds my skull. The head-behind-arms stance, on his back, legs stretched out. Looking over his toes. Channels flipping. Small side glances in program spaces for advertisements. Silence. Silence. Silence. Infomercial. Bag sealer. THE air-tight-battery-operated-bag-sealer. "Doesn't work," he says abruptly. "Not once did that fucking thing ever work." Crossing the other foot onto the other. Shaking his head. "Such a scam." I clear my throat. "I suppose you can't believe everything you hear."

Staring straight ahead.

About the author:

Katie Manderfield lives and writes in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in 3:AM, Laura Hird Writing Showcase, dogmatika, and Word Riot literary journals, among others.