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Memories from a Roadside Motel -- Runaway

by carlysle

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.

He nodded.

“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.

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75 Reviews

Points: 2162
Reviews: 75

Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:32 am
SilverBerry wrote a review...

Heyo! Silverberry here for a review! Overall your story was very well done and absorbing and you have a good eye for detail and your pace was very good. You have a very interesting writing style, for you imbed the plot through your characters and interactions, yet you still see Mortimer doing very Day to day things that characterize him a little more and push the story forwards, good job!

I didn't really understand the story at first, but now I think I understand that Mortimer has some sort of mental disease such as Alzheimer's-or at least this is what I believe you were alluding to. This leads me to tell you the first edit I would make, which is that you have a good amount of suspense and buildup, yet your payback isn't very satisfying. By this I mean that you have a lot of mystery surrounding Mortimer, for he can't remember anything, yet I was expecting more expiration for his predicament. I think it would have been better if you had more buildup when Mortimer is slowly regaining his memory (before he forgets again), we did learn a lot about him during this period, like about his daughter and that he'd been missing, but I think that you keep the rest of the background away from the leader. I think it explicitly saying his background was a good idea, and having the ending be confusing helped the reader relate more to the character, but I think that you should add more things to allude to Mortimer'a backstory. For example, why did he have a suitcase with plants in it? WHY did he run away? What makes him forget? Add more details that will answer these questions, at least partially.
The other thing I would say is that some of your descriptions could use some work. You had desfriptuons such as "chocolate hair" and "rich voice" that are a little overdone and doesn't characterize very well. I think having more surprising/stronger descriptions and adjectives would be one of the details that add explanation as well as establishes setting, characters, etc.

Anyways, all in all wonderful story! You had a very unique idea and I liked the way you wrote it and the overall suspense and confusion that you manipulated well. I think some tweaking would be good to make it easier to understand, but either way good job! I hope I helped and keep writing!

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193 Reviews

Points: 575
Reviews: 193

Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:01 pm
herbgirl wrote a review...

Hello! herbgirl here for a review!
From the opening sentence, i was absorbed into this story. We learn so much about the main character from just that sentence, it's surprising. We learn our main character is a traveler, but slightly unhinged, due to his suitcase being full of flowers, and perhaps he was once a working man, considering the only article of clothes he packs are overalls. As the story moves on, i did notice some things that could use improvement, but overall, i really liked this story. The main character is interesting, as is his situation. i enjoyed reading about him because he seemed so quirky, yet so calm and confused.
While i did like this piece, very much so, i do have a few suggestions. First of all, i feel as if the plot needs a bit of clarification. i understand that Mortimer has run away from his family, presumably his daughter and his wife. However, i feel much is missing from this scenario. Why did he run away? Plus, at the end, you mention that Mortimer doesn't understand why he kept the picture of his family. This is a little confusing, and causes your audience to wonder whether Mortimer will actually be heading home. The whole situation surrounding the picture i found very hazy. It seemed as if at times the picture held significance for Mortimer, but by the end it most decidedly didn't. Why is this? i feel as though it might be an attempt to imply that the character perhaps has Alzheimer's. However, this is not made entirely clear, and results in a rather confusing narrative. If this is the case, i advise adding a few more details, particularly describing symptoms pertaining to Alzheimer's which make it clear to the reader what is going on.
My other suggestion is to expand your vocabulary. You have a fascinating piece here, and it's very well done, but the words you use in descriptions lower the level of writing. For example, you describe the receptionist as having "chocolate brown hair". This isn't a very unique color description, plus chocolate comes in all sorts of colors. Try using a word like "hickory" "tawny" or "carob". Another notable place where you could improve vocabulary was when you describe the motel room as "normal-looking". There are loads of other words you could use in place of this, like "average" or "Un-noteworthy". Try going through this piece and reading carefully, looking for any adjectives you could replace with something more detailed or descriptive.
Anyways, sorry if that seemed a little harsh! i really liked this story, it had an interesting plot. Just pay this piece a little more attention and i think it will be absolutely fantastic.

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485 Reviews

Points: 21027
Reviews: 485

Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:29 pm
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Elijah wrote a review...

Hello! Eli here~

You start very promising, showing us there is one male narrative to begin with. But you continue to name that person /he/ and this is why you repeat the same word again and again in each next sentence. Maybe find another adj to use to describe him?

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.

There is pretty much no space in between the speech of the sleepy lady and the man that we are talking about, they are messed up together even if it is obvious who is saying what. It should be the way I have quoted it above. Leave space, make it understandable and make it seem clean.

There was no one there but him, the receptionist, and a man sleeping in an armchair.

You really do not need the second comma in this sentence. You order three things like you would any simplier objects, so why the comma? Just like oranges, apples and bananas.

“Thank you,” he said, pointing it towards her.
“There you go, darlings,” he whispered to the plants.

That part is pretty self-explanatory, you do not need a comma after the end of the speech, it makes no sense. It would be needed if you continued the speech bubble though.

He unpacked his suitcase, and walked to the window. He put each of his plants on the sill, and opened the window.

I do not find the commas problematic or wrong but the sentences are very short and they do not need that pause there. You give small amount of information anyways, they are only two actions in each.

He could hear her smile.

The simple question, how the smile is heard?
It can only be seen. Maybe you can hear her let out a voice which proves she is smiling and happy. I also noticed you continue to use /he/ and /his/ a bit too much like in the beginning. You know the name and we know it, use it.

The ending is interesting and a bit of a cliffhanger. I would to read and review more of this. Hope you have a great day.

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25 Reviews

Points: 2338
Reviews: 25

Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:25 am
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voiceofdragons wrote a review...

This was a very interesting read!

I think it could be fleshed out a bit more with adverbs particularly around the dialogue.

The phrase, "A what?" I think should have it's own paragraph since it is a different person speaking.

The passage of time isn't clearly defined for me here. (After re-reading this, I caught you wrote he fell asleep. For some reason this didn't stand out for me and I totally missed it. Maybe mention the colour of the sky when he walked in the hotel room or something denoting that it's night, etc.?)

During the phone conversation it was hard to tell who was speaking--I had to go back and count lines.

A lot through this you have the same sentence structure. Try to change it up a bit! Give it that ol' razzle dazzle! (A good example of what I mean when I say "same sentence structure" is in paragraph 12.)

I like the fourth paragraph. It looks like you spent a good amount of time on it. I felt like I could see the setting here and how the receptionist's voice sounded in the quiet lobby.

It sounds like this is a habit for him! How interesting. Is this a short story or a chapter story? If it's intended to have multiple chapters you've certainly got me hooked. If it's a short story I think you wrapped it up pretty nicely as you've set enough hints that the reader can infer about the man's family and all that jazz. Kudos!

What orators lack in depth they make up for in length.
— Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu