written and produced by Viktor Devonne for 2 Night Stay
recorded and performed by Essence Revealed
It was unreasonably warm in the room. She could not tell the last time the bed had been turned down, but the musk in the air would have given the impression of someone having done aerobics while smoking cigars and then bathing a cat.
The windows looked bolted shut but with minimal amount of fuss, she was able to shake one open. Her view of the courtyard and laxly cultivated garden was idyllic in comparisons to the rest of her surroundings.
The hotel had fallen into neglect, but certainly not recently. She chose to stay there for the rate, and the proximity to the convention.
She had long been the only mind of money matters at her firm. She knew where the clients liked to throw their dollar bills, and where the administrators vacationed on the company card. Years ago, she’d proven her worth to several partners when she 1099’d the mistresses as something more palatable for the IRS.
She herself was three years married. Margaret Mumford-Sachs. Margie, please, but it was her decision to hyphenate. She was tough in the board room, but without those hushed “what a bitch” whispers that her feminine colleagues seemed to always get. She knew her job, frankly better than anyone else, but knew to file away, mentally, where the bodies were buried rather than act on it now.
Four years with Hopkins Vernon Skipp, the trials she was deposed for, the schmoozing cocktail parties, and the creative tax deductions did not prepare her for marriage to a would-be perfect man.
He was insistently perfect. Underfoot. Inquisitive. Dying to please. She has decided at six years old that she was not a dog person. She still wasn’t.
It was almost 4pm. The room was already airing out and her rose-scented body splash managed to overpower whatever Dutch Master failed to die in there weeks ago.
Margie took off her lanyard and hung it on the lamp. Glancing at the mirror, she was relieved her hair had stayed mostly intact from the morning’s styling. Her manicured nails—violet—traced her neck to clavicle, over her jacket buttons. The suit was a good choice. She looked amazing in navy. She stripped off the blazer somewhat reluctantly, exposing her white blouse. Both were soon draped over the only chair in the room.
It was a matter-of-fact undressing for a woman who failed to find herself erotic for these many years. Within moments, she was already in the shower, letting the heat provide much-needed permission for her mind to drift to the hours ahead.
She was an efficient shower-taker at home, but here, she allowed herself to linger. It was time to switch gears and prepare herself to be something for someone else. Those unchecked emails would wait for Tuesday. The steam filled her mind, as she caressed her unloved body.
She shuddered at that thought. Jesus Christ, yes, she was loved. She had a family she grew up with and supported her. The collie of a convenience at home in the shape of a college sweetheart. The single mothers who knew she had their back, and almost foreclosed that got the extra week to pay. People are complicated, she thought. It was as good an excuse as any to allow herself to sink into a momentary feeling of abandonment.
The flip phone in the other room made its familiar midi chime. She caught herself postponing again, even when it served her. Especially when it served her.
The towels were surprisingly luxurious all things considered; large enough to wrap herself once and a half, and to effectively soak up her skin. No bathmat; her foot prints betrayed the otherwise naked floor.
Patting her chest and thighs, Margie stumbled into the now dim bedroom area, and to her second carry-on bag. Her Chicago address tag came loose off the handle and dropped to the floor, as she slipped her hand to the bottom of the bag, past the nasal spray and tissues. Removing the silk camisole and panty set, she dropped the towel and immediately slid the loose fabric over her still moistened skin.
She wondered if it was still too conservative for the weekend. She thought black lace would be severe, and hard to explain at home, so she opted for the light silver. She was afraid of looking like a mom on the Friday night lineup, so she had left her usual nightwear at home.
The phone—there’s a phone?—quietly rang, predictably distorted, on the end table, predictably stained with glass marks.
“Ms., uh, Williams?” the voice said, clearly suspicious of the last name. They had seen her credit card after all. “Your guest is here. I’m sending them up as you requested.”
She nodded sheepishly, and it was quiet for just a few seconds too long; “Ms. Williams?”
“Oh!” she stuttered, “Yes, thank you.” What the hell was this, 8th grade formal? Wake up, Margie. She put the down the receiver, and went to sit on the bed. She should’ve checked the sheets when she came in. Relieved to see that while the hideous Anne Geddes reject comforter looked crunchy, the sheets and pillows were bleach white, and seemed at least somewhat new.
Margie sat down on the open bed, and attempted a few poses. No, “I don’t have to do all that,” she reminded herself.
The quiet of the room, and the distance from the lobby to the elevator to the fifth floor, made her nervous. She flipped on the TV to yet another news analyst discussing that fucking blue dress. Switching to Weather, unlicensed muzak put her in the mood of a court lobby, and was oddly soothing.
The door’s lock deactivated from the outside, and Margie saw her new guest for the first time. “It’s okay to use the key, right? The desk said—”
Margie smiled, “Yes. Hi.”
Her guest put the keycard down on the small table by the door. “I’m Erica.”
“Hi. I—” Margie thought for a second. Fuck it. “I’m Margie.”
“Hi Margie,” Erica smiled warmly. She walked toward her slowly, her faux leather jack catching the dim light from the lamp. “We can do whatever you’d like tonight. I’m here til about 8. Is that alright?”
Margie exhaled. “Yes, that’s totally fine.”
Erica put down her knock-off bag, which hit the carpet with a minor thump. “Good,” said Erica. She was soft, but comforting, as she tussled her messy-style bob and pursed her bubblegum pink lips in a knowing “so what you wanna do” stance. She put her hands on her waist, her jacket rising and the bottom revealing a dress about four inches shorter than Margie would ever feel comfortable wearing at the office.
“You look nice, Margie,” Erica said, not moving. She smelled like vanilla sugar. “Really sexy.”
Margie’s eyes stung for half a second, as she lay back. “Lie down with me?”
Erica pulled off her jacket and kicked off the clunky boots. “Do you want me to leave this on?” Erica pointed to her satin minidress. She looked amazing in navy.
Margie smiled, “I’ll do it.”
Erica would end up leaving promptly at 8:05. Margie was a little sad to see her go, although she knew she would fall asleep by 8:30 at this rate. She plugged Erica’s number into her phone, as “Jefferson Account,” and kissed her goodbye at the door, without touching her own stomach to hide it with her hand, or reaching for a robe.
The door closed, and Margie stood there naked for a few moments, before returning her wallet to her purse, and seeking a return to the comfort of the now slightly damp, tumbled sheets.