Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
He carried nothing in his suitcase but potted plants and a spare pair of overalls. He saw the building and couldn’t help but walk in, though he didn’t know why.
He shuffled to the front desk.
The sleepy woman behind the counter pushed her long, chocolate hair behind one ear and asked, “Would you like to reserve a room?”“A what?” He was in a daze.
“A room, sir.” She spoke slightly slower, and her rich voice filled up the room. He looked around. There was no one there but him, the receptionist, and a man sleeping in an armchair. A television was nestled in between the walls and the ceiling, and it quietly displayed infomercial after infomercial. He breathed, slowly, and turned back to Veronica, as it said on her name tag.
“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I would.” He pulled his wallet from his back pocket.
“And what name would that be under?”
“Mortimer.” He added, “Hodges. Mortimer Hodges.”
He paid her for the night, and she handed him his key. He studied it.
“Thank you,” he said, pointing it towards her.
He hobbled up the stairs, and paused to look at the interstate. He didn’t remember packing his bag, or why he left, or why he chose to walk along the highway for so long.
He turned the key, and with great grandeur opened the door to a normal-looking motel room: a bed with a dusty looking lamp and a telephone beside it, a boxy looking television, and doors which he guessed led to the bathroom and the closet.
He unpacked his suitcase, and walked to the window. He put each of his plants on the sill, and opened the window. He hung his overalls in the closet, lowered himself gingerly on to the bed, and turned on the television. The constant voices soon lulled him to sleep.
He was woken by the sound of a bird chirping on the windowsill. He heaved himself out of bed and shooed the bird away. He got a glass from the bathroom and watered his plants. The ones he brought with him were petunias.
“There you go, darlings,” he whispered to the plants.
He went to grab his overalls when he noticed something on the floor. He gradually bent over and picked it up. It was a picture, taken on an instant camera. There was a older woman and a younger girl, and they were hugging. Rays of sunlight and light flares blurred out the faces that he’d never seen before. He sat on the bed and picked up the phone, dialing the only number he remembered.
When the line clicked, he said, “Hello?”
On the other end, he heard a choking noise. A woman had started to cry.
“Dad?” She said this through tears.
Dad, he murmured. He looked at the photograph and his vision blurred.“Dad, it’s me, Lily.” Lily.
A pause. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, yes, I’m… I’m fine.”
“Where are you? I thought you were dead.”
“I’m not sure...” He trailed off. He looked up, wiping his eyes. “But I’m coming home, now.”
“Okay, Dad.” She sniffed. “Just… don’t scare us like that, alright?” He could hear her smile.
He chuckled. “I won’t. I’ll be home after breakfast.”
He hung up. He gently took each petunia and nestled it in its place in his suitcase. He changed his overalls and zipped up his bag. He took one last look around the room, and closed the door.
At the continental breakfast, he poured himself some coffee and sat down at a table for two, across from a brooding young woman who reminded him of someone. She looked up at him, confused and surprised.
He leaned close to her. “Nobody deserves to be alone,” he whispered with a sly wink.
“Hmm,” she grunted. She went back to playing with her cereal.
She looked up behind him and gasped. She hit his arm and pointed at the television in the corner of the room.
His picture was on the TV, under the ever foreboding yellow text that read “MISSING.”
“Is that you?” she gasped.
“But I’m going home, now.”
With that, he rose, and shuffled to the front desk.
“I’d like to check out.” he said to Veronica, who was as shocked as the woman in the dining room.
He pulled his wallet out of his back pocket, along with a photo of an older woman and a younger girl.
He wasn’t sure why he’d kept it.