Published on 22 January 2022 at 19:11

There was something about his last kiss…it hadn’t sent those shivers down the spine like last time.

We were in a hotel room again; an unknown place. I couldn’t remember why I was there but I wasn’t alone. I could hear my children laughing, talking about a dead spider they’d found under the bed. It should have been the first sign of the surreal: children normally fear spiders.

He was all handsome in his dark suit, smiling and lighthearted. The feeling of his lips was so familiar. I remembered their shape, their texture and the sensation of their touch against mine. Unlike so long ago, there was no surge of emotion: A flat, yet tender kiss.

He took my hand excitedly and walked me out into the hallway. Why would he be so keen to show me a hotel? I wondered. Perhaps it was the school. His school? Were we back in school? So many times I’d met him in the virtual world back in a classroom, somewhere among the maze of heavy, wooden desks. But no, this was no school and we weren’t kids anymore. Not a dream then? I couldn’t tell for sure.

He disappeared into the building and just like that, he was gone! Another ten years perhaps? I thought bitterly. There’d be no midway station this time, no trains to take in opposite directions…this moment, torn from reality like the missing pages from a journal, was all there would be to say goodbye. I could not traverse that space to see him. The path he was on, would lead him to the other side of the world. It wasn’t just money, or obligations which made the chasm greater. It was the way the world turned now and would still turn until some undefined moment in time. We had returned to the era of the peasant. Village dwellers bound by taxes, oaths and special passes in order to see each other across borders, seas and continents. Our travels had become colour-coded, scanned and encoded, all in the name of a fight against a common enemy: each other.

Finding myself back in the room, I noticed the children fascinated by a covered basket.

“What’s in there?” I asked their father.

“A white-speckled crow!” He replied in excitement. “It just flew into the room!”

“I suppose we should try and save it?” I pondered, trying to take a peek under the cover.

“I don’t know.” He shrugged.

Such a curious thing, I thought: A white crow, flying into a room!

“Hold on.” I said thoughtfully. “Let’s just see what happens if we allow it to move freely.”

Nobody was keen on the idea and yet, what other options were there really? Keep it trapped under the cover forever? Try to capture it to set it free? Such a contradiction. I lifted the cover gently. The crow hopped forward happily, stretched its wings and flew directly onto my shoulder. It looked up at me and rubbed its head against my neck.

“I’ve missed you so much!” I could hear its voice.

How was this possible? I thought in awe. This can’t be real! It wasn’t real!

I moved towards the open window. The bird gave one last glance of recognition and took to flight. How beautiful I thought. Who was it? Who was she?

“Time for that boat trip.” He interrupted my thoughts. “He’s waiting for us.”

What boat trip? I thought to myself. There was no water here? Sure there was! The hotel was part of a school. Across it was a narrow country road garnished by bushy trees and to the right, a big expanse of water visible from the room. And who was waiting for us? My friend? No, I realized as we embarked, it wasn’t him.

“Hello.” Sounded another familiar voice. Another ghost, I thought.

“Why are you here?” I asked incredulously. “I mean, how are you here exactly?”

He didn’t answer and just started rowing. My bare feet touched the rough, wooden bottom of the boat. ‘Just like the wooden desks.’ I mused. A few black crows scratched the surface of the dusk sky. Suddenly we were alone. The children must’ve called! I thought. My foot brushed against his as he rowed. Where was the water though? It seemed as though we floated in the air. I watched my feet, fascinated by his proximity to them. Suddenly, I felt his arm pull me towards him. Without a word, he pressed his lips against mine and opened them ever so slightly. No! I protested silently. Not again, not him! But I couldn’t get back the stolen moment. Warmth ebbed through me from his lips. So strange, this person…someone I knew and yet have never met.

‘I’ve missed you so much!’ The phrase echoed in my mind.

“No, I can’t!” I pulled myself away reluctantly, watching him and the boat drift off slowly into the parched horizon. As I returned to the hotel, I found the kids sitting around their father, listening intently to him and a new guest.

“Welcome back love!” He said cheerfully. “This is his wife.” He motioned to the young woman across from him. ‘Who’s wife?’ I thought but didn’t voice the question. She wore a summer dress, had ash blonde hair and a firm, square profile. Like an actress from a movie I thought.

This is my movie! And this is my hotel…my midway…my bridge across spaces too vast to travel towards people too far to touch.


The brightness of the morning broke through the crevices in the curtains.

“Good morning again.” He whispered softly and moved a few strands of hair out of my face.

“I’m sorry…” I mumbled. “I fell asleep again.”

“I know.” He smiled.

“Give me a moment.” I added turning away, wiping my tears.

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Maria Zak
8 months ago

I can smell the description. So detailed it hits the senses.