Friday, October 18, 2013

Short Story - Hotel Rooms and Showers and Sneaking Around Like In a Cheap Movie

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By Sifa Asani Gowon

Hand in his thick, wavy hair, he glared at his reflection in the hotel bathroom and hazel eyes stared back, vacant. Steam from the shower fogged up the mirror and ran down in rivulets, making his image appear as distorted as he felt.

Look at you. Hotel rooms and showers and sneaking around like in some sleazy, cheap movie.

He heard a sound from the adjoining room. She was dressing up, probably leaving. He really didn’t want to see or talk to her but he had to. Different thoughts swirled in his head, incoherent words and sentences that didn’t make sense.

‘…You have broken the promise to the wife you married when you were young…’

From the cellars of his memory, words with a voice. He blinked. That voice had been almost audible. He pulled the towel around his waist and took a deep breath. He had to do this.

She looked up as he entered, and her beauty hit him, as it always did, the permanent half-smile, wide brown eyes that could burn with passion and also freeze in calculation, a body that begged to be explored.

Desire and disgust warred in him roiling up nausea, but he swallowed the bile, resisting the urge to turn away from her.  She continued to stare, oblivious to his internal war.

‘This will not happen again,’ he said.

Her half-smile widened, one eyebrow cocked before she winked and left the room.  He’d said the exact words the previous time…and the time before that.

He dressed quickly in clothing that had been carelessly discarded earlier. The hum in his ears was now a steady throb. He glanced at his watch. 8 p.m. Eight years. Three kids.

‘She was your partner and you have broken your promise to her…’

Jumbled words untied enough again to form a statement in his head. His breath came in short puffs, as though there wasn’t enough air. He left the room without a backward glance.

Driving home, he wondered not for the first time how he let himself fall into this clichéd existence. He had imagined he was stronger, had more backbone.

And that hotel room wasn’t about love. He knew love, recognized love and had a love, and he knew the dizzying heights he had reached with his love.

He could almost taste her lips, smell her hair and feel the soft curls on his fingertips. He could see her eyes filled with fire, and could also imagine them fill with pain and tears if she found out.

His phone vibrated in his pocket and he pulled it out. One look at the screen brought back the guilt and he rejected the call.
She tried again. Again he hung up. At the third try, he uttered a foul word and tossed the phone out of the window in a haze of rage. The rear-view mirror showed it shatter on the road before another car crushed what remained.

‘…although you promised before God you would be faithful to her.’

He let out a groan through gritted his teeth as he shook his head. He knew these words; he knew that voice. He turned on the radio to drown it out and the soulful voice of Mary J Blige floated out:

‘Stay down…we’re almost to the very best part… One day we’ll look back on this…’

He turned the radio off, fighting the sudden constriction in his throat, blinking back tears. It would seem the Source was not averse to using lyrics from an R&B song to pass a message. He swore, his thoughts as twisted as his epithets.

He slowed down as his house appeared. He couldn’t even form an adequate lie to tell, an excuse. He supposed it didn’t really matter at this point. He parked in the driveway and got out of the car.

It was 9 pm and most of the lights in the house were out when he turned the doorknob and stepped in. A soft voice stopped him in his tracks as he started toward the staircase.

‘Late night at work?’

 He couldn’t turn to face her, but mumbled in affirmation, feeling sick. Another couple of steps and her voice stopped him again, a pained whisper.

‘When did I stop being enough for you?’

He slowly turned. And what he saw would haunt him for the rest of his life. She stood with her shoulders slumped, tears of defeat and betrayal glistening in her eyes like jewels. In that instant he realized that she knew. She had always known.

Sifa Asani Gowon is an incurable romantic who spends her time juggling her writing, school 'runs' and a small baking business. Her first novel, 'Playing by Her Rules', is scheduled to be published soon. She lives in Nigeria with her husband and children.


  1. Hot soup! Great piece. You also managed to make me not hate the guy! I can imagine what follows- lots of pleas, maybe a few tears...

  2. Nicely written if too preachy. Why replace God with Source?

    1. Hi Kemi,

      I used 'Source' because seemed to flow, especially as all the bold lines come from the book of Malachi in the Bible. Hence, the 'Source' of the voice in his head.
      As to it being too preachy...well, maybe so if you look at it in one way. I wrote it as I felt it at that particular moment and I admit I did have a message to convey.
      Thanks for reading and commenting though. :-)

  3. Fabulous excerpt, Sifa. You got me reading from the first word to the last.

    Loved the internal turmoil, loved the inner conscience making him grit his teeth at his indiscretion. You have a catchy write up here. And I loved her, 'When did I stop being enough for you?'

    Let me know when the book is ready.

  4. Really touching story. I wonder where they can go from there.


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