The Last Motel

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No one likes Eden.

She’s always known it.

She knows more when she eyes the labourers along the wharf.

The breeze carries a lick of saltwater over the pier. Shelled wood planks cleave to a sandy dock that was once a rainbow of varnished hues. Most know it’s seen better days. Some reside in the old shacks along the shoreline. Seldom flourish although their planters harbour trinkets and marigolds.

Eden knows these strangers well. They despise change. They internalize the shame that emerges from contempt and constraint as a way to evince their righteousness.

Always raving about the good ol’ days. Days before life as they knew it was speared by the new highway. Days before the woods succumbed to tenements of asphalt.

Eden curls her toes. Her sandals swelter beneath the balls of her feet. There is no repose. Tears want to flood her over, but her throat flares and swallows hard enough to keep them down.

John floats in her head. There’s a catch in his voice. It’s cold and husky. Too honest. Almost intimate.

But Eden knows it isn’t. It can’t be.

While the sea rouses countless prospects, the fog of slumber has yet to lift. She dreams of John. His breath carries the scent of sleep while his lips linger with the unequivocal scent of her musk. He murmurs against her temple as he walks his fingers over her, surveying every expanse, probing each aperture. His caress inscribes the stars that burst beneath her eyelids. She bites. He nibbles. She writhes to draw him closer. He obliges but does not relent. Arousal overtakes her while resolve steadies his pace.

Eden knows this isn’t serious.

For John.

The water rolls as it always did, as if time and space are as one in each ripple. Its waves lay paths along the shoreline. Most lead to caverns whose spikes teethe the breeze. The rest distend to grassy dunes. Eden follows one of these. She observes flaxen spates of beach grass whose stalks are stronger when they intertwine. They tickle her calves.

In a matter of paces, Eden finds herself amongst friends. Old friends who have yet to become former friends. They talk around uncomfortable silences. Novelty only exists in the present.

The newborns.

The newlyweds.

The newly divorced.

The newfound enmity that tears old friends apart.

Everywhere, relations strike a threshold of decline and ascent. Most lay in the shadow of the condemned processing plant, the legacy of a defunct cabinet. Overgrown weeds festoon crumbling asphalt and gutted locomotives. Peals of steelwork halve convoys that are visible for miles. The plant belongs to sunny days when anything was possible. Not a reminder for the townsfolk to be wary of impossible campaign promises, but a testament to their naïveté.

What speaks to Eden is the water wheel. Every now and then, it turns and turns. Going through the motions.

But it goes nowhere.

Eden’s eyes are drawn to the pipes. Their ghosts materialize in steamy tendrils. They waft along moored liners and rooftops. They patronize those who live in untidy ships helmed with odds and ends, amble within shallow waters, and prattle on about nothing. For those who mistake shackles for anchors, they are nascent guests.

The beach is littered with acrid seaware, but the odour subsides when the tide comes in. Eden watches sunlit waves pulse along the shore. She sees two women trudge along the rocks which teethe the beach, one whose lustre takes shape against milky clouds; the other who is illumined by the glare of the distant boulevard.

Eden smirks as they advance. Her lips quiver, but her jaw sets before laughter steals through. She recognizes the women, Ava and Mia, from high school.

That’s the thing about Ava. There’s a husky catch in her voice; a little hearty, mostly sweet. She isn’t a liar, but she can’t face reality. Strangers imagine her to be a paragon of virtue—roseate, cherub, modest—yet the light in her eyes occludes darkness. An avid mouth that harbours an unruly tongue pouts against strawberry blonde tresses and freckles.

The cars she parks in are fast.

But she’s faster.

Palms ease clothes off. The fabric falls before it distends to expose creamy skin. The hair cascades over the breasts; the dusky areolae whose peaks harden under the hair, the hands, then the tongue. Everything glistens beneath the tongue. Until nothing exists beyond the sounds of suckling and the fingers swimming, the livid forepleasure that readies them for more.

Likewise, Mia exchanges pictures with anonymous personals. The most suggestive ones incline her to cruise the backroads in her ancient station wagon. Aliased partners recline their seats, part their legs, lick the flesh until the curls succumb to the tongues. The car sways to the wet unison.

Yet Mia curates a picturesque marriage and motherhood that is cheerfully captioned throughout the day. No one sees this for what it is: that she is reduced to her toddlers’ escort bayan bursa company, how little she cares for them. She cares even less for her husband.

Eden thinks they haven’t changed much since high school. Ava still fucks whatever and whoever she can. Mia still makes love akin to the paper-and-pencil games she inscribed in all of her notebooks.

They both still confide in Eden.

The women trek along boulders and mossy outgrowth. Earthen, muted hues of celadon affix the beach to an escarpment which floods during high tide. Eden eyes the leathery old tourists who idle beneath shawls and parasols. Ava mutters something about how privileged positionalities tyrannize foreigners whose labour affords repose. She recalls how internationals are promised pay and lodging, only to earn morsels upon their arrival and reside in cots packed like sardines. Mia counters that they should be so lucky. She insists that they must’ve had it worse wherever they came from.

Eden wonders what makes this town special.

“It’s better,” Mia shrugs. “Not special, just better.”

Eden snickers after the condemned factory. “Yeah, better.”

The building hangs like a curse over this town and passersby.

Eden can relate. Except she is less brooding than alone. Artifice defines the way one lives. The default is to lie. Anything to effect courtesy or familiarity to garner acceptance. Oblige whatever or whomever comes until they come to pass. Regale them to no end even the means are patently untrue. People come to realize that they are riding their own trains. They are lone itinerants, resigned to exemplars and internalizing the umbrage of their adversaries.

When it comes to John, Eden has a one-track mind.

Ava and Mia chide how Eden seldom stays or smiles. They have yet to grasp the wisdom of reclusion. Everyone, everything is bound to fall apart. Not grow apart. Fall apart. Liars never grow. They just cave in when their charades begin to unravel.

Eden thinks it’s better to be alone for that; when the world shrinks away and takes every lie with it, tearing the liar from reality itself. All alone in her skin to discern the ebb and flow of her emotions.

Eden declines when the women insist they catch up over coffee. It’s been a long drive from the city. She’s already tired after the short walk along the beach, but she promises to check out the party they invite her to tonight.

Although she blames jet lag for her fatigue, it’s really survivor’s guilt. Ava and Mia can hardly call life in this town life at all. Nobody else can either. There is no life in the monotony of parking and playing house, patronizing the same peoples and places amidst paltry pleasantries. Things are jointly stagnant and successive. Those who aspire to evolve are blocked by telltales who are empowered by committees and cliques. Those who prosper subsist by memory, where the past echoes into the present.

Eden is one of the few who ventures beyond this. It was as ugly as people had sworn she was. No one would’ve had her even if she hadn’t kept to herself. Ava and Mia were the only exceptions.

To date, Eden doesn’t know why. She came by Ava at a corner store students would flood during lunch. Ava had somehow broken from her circle, then sauntered over to bum a cigarette. She stayed even though Eden didn’t smoke. Not too long after, Eden found Mia fuming over some guy in the library. Someone swore they’d seen her with him to his girlfriend’s chagrin. Heckled and bawled out, study hall was her refuge. Eden offered mute reassurance.

Ever since then, the women proved to be Eden’s unlikely albeit tenable allies.

Neither of them knew she was an insomniac.

She still is.

All those sleepless nights and she has yet to awaken. Her eyes burn. She is like a heart turned inside out. Not a heart that throbs to love and be loved. No, the heart here is a wave that rolls and engulfs another one. It throbs against the world and undulates through every cell.

When one cannot sleep, one cannot dream. One is held captive to waking hours. Only the prospect of leaving gave Eden repose.

So one day, she resolved that she was meant for more. More than this whole damn town.

Eden barely comes here anymore. Each visit sees her more estranged than the last. Even Ava and Mia cannot escape the swell of disconnect.

Neither can John.

John makes Eden realize that she never really lies. She always tells the truth.

Just not the whole truth.

There is so much unsaid, but she finds herself talking around long silences: the inertia that creeps in after wakeful hours; the way movie scenes change when they can call them from a way off; how the indie songs in her headphones soften the industrious silence of her study carrel.

Eden doesn’t tell him how hot and restless she grows just thinking of him, how she tenses when he presses against her.

She doesn’t have to.

John must bursa sinirsiz eskort know.

Eden is the one who’s uncertain.

Which is why she’s come back here.

There is a storm of voices in her head. They belong to past lives. A nautical cobalt obscures the refractions of the words and encumbers them. In the corner of her mind, John quivers against strident indigos. He tempers the voices. His sex is sapphirine. Its tidal strokes bathe her in a ray of light. They make love until Eden eclipses the stars.

Eden refuses these voices. To acknowledge them gives them shape. She reduces them to limbs and devotes herself to a body of research. Only she is no longer engrossed in her studies. Her study corral is walled in by canvas partitions. Inside, she fumes with indecision.

Eden takes pride in scholarship, but John has her outclassed. John has the power of the ocean. Currents enfold undulations of the sex. Each stroke anoints the intimates.

She thinks of his glasses. The luminous curvatures are fraught with iridescent parity. This gives John a coastal quality, like a dream, a sea within. It saltens her soul and floods in her head. He pours himself over her, then swims in her eyes and her bed.

And, I wake up alone…

Eden retrieves her cell, swipes to see if she’s missed any messages.

No texts.

No calls.

No John.

Before she knows it, it’s time to party.

Ava and Mia pull up in a rusty pickup, then coax her in. Ava squints over the dash. She admits she might be lost. It’s been a while since she’s been out this way. Mia retrieves her phone and razes her social media feed for directions.

Eden muses about the car. She can’t remember the last time she was in a pickup. All she recalls are those which belong to the fishermen who parked in vacant lots, turning down the beds for crates that brim with bounties alongside prices sharpied on neon cardstock. Ava bought hers on a whim. It proved cheaper than servicing the cherry coupe her parents got her for graduation. She steers off the main highway some miles later and onto a backroad whose rocks loudly pelt the underside.

Before Eden can talk them into retreat, Mia catches sight of their destination. An avenue emerges from pine thickets and headlights. Flames echo the starlight beyond several cruisers lodged within and against a gravelly drive.

Ava and Mia declare this is a night of freedom. They are intent to celebrate.

Eden feels less than festive amidst thick clouds of hash and diesel. She barely recognizes the host, one of many infamous Mean Girls who stalked wherever she saw fit to roam. Her immaculate complexion has since furrowed from rampant menial shifts. A tiny mole and an almighty flask serve as the remnants of who she once was.

Once or twice, Ava and Mia goad Eden to dance or sing along when the audio shuffles to a beloved classic. It takes no time at all for Ava and Mia to melt into every beat. Even so, they are restless. They float against partners to sweat out what chaos consumes them.

Eden enjoys the odd bout, but she never truly leaves the sidelines. Every so often, she locks eyes with the host. Eden remembers that her name is Louise. Her clique was airy, denim vultures who swarmed and magnified every little thing. She led the pack only to falter when her boyfriend cheated. Then, she would cluck and brood after adversaries, less real than imagined. Her grades began to plummet. Schemes went awry. Inevitably, a new queen hatched once Louise took a nosedive in senior year.

Mia says Louise struggles to remain the life of her own parties, most of which are thrown to recover some semblance of her glory days. Ava adds that Louise’s husband cheats too.

Not that anyone cares. These parties have generous kegs, bunks, and playlists. Louise is merely a small due anyone with a kind word or ear can pay.

But for Eden, the sadness is palpable. She overhears small talk, small minds, and likely smaller hearts. Everything revolves around the realization that life didn’t have to be this way. This heavy insight that what, who, or however love tears us apart; how vainly we pursue approval or intimacy only to realize that we’ve severed ties. Ties which were barely there to begin with, so they’re overlooked or taken for granted; but we’re utterly lost when they’re gone. Then, we all realize we’re alone.

Only to find our suffering is deafeningly unifying.

Eden finds herself at a loss. She cracks open a soda. Some slow songs later, she recovers her phone and swipes to her messages.

Still nothing.

Eden swallows her pride. She messages John. I want to see you, but I’m at a party. It took a while to find this address…

The absence of his reply tears into her no matter how hard she tries to force herself to expect nothing in return.

Eden wishes she never came here. She would’ve been better off at home even though Ava and escort bayan Mia would’ve insisted otherwise. She never gets anything out of these parties. She is always resigned to wait them out because Ava and Mia never want to leave. Sometimes, she’s able to hitch a ride with others on their way out. Eden hopes this will be the case tonight. She needs to go home, plunge into a book or a movie; pile whatever she can, as much as she can, until John is bemused to her periphery. She must forget. The sooner she does, the better.

Eden stares after a mirror-like window. Her throat stings once she catches sight of her reflection: bloodshot eyes, fulsome chapped lips, an intangible mass of curls which seldom neaten. She looks to her hands. She examines the ridges on her nails, the outcome of nervously scratching at her cuticles. Then, she thinks of the fleshy girths that distend her physique: every glaring blemish, pore, and hair follicle. She thinks of her corrugated sex, its enclave and undergrowth.

She thinks of John, clad in his lab coat, who oversees endless experiments; his smirk after she first admits to finding him attractive and the waves of ecstasy which swell and crash in return.

Only to find herself alone and barely afloat in the aftermath.

Eden looks to her phone. It stares back undisturbed.

It’s for the best, she concludes. Better to be adrift than completely sunk.

Eden heads out, paces the driveway. The night opposes the party. Its silence is heavy. All that can be heard is the crackle of a waning campfire. Only after she trains her ears to the sound does she catch a whiff of the muffled highs from inside. She almost laughs at herself, but the mere prospect of mirth makes her ache.

She wants John.

The evening chill wanes because the thought of him kindles her insides. She looks to the stars. As if she can go on like this: consumed with indecision, unsure of whether John overlooks or pointedly neglects her misgivings. In response to her inhibitions, he maintains his patience and an unwavering resolve.

And Eden is alone. She is always alone—tearful, seething, wondering—caught in anguish which John does not share. Maybe this is what marks the tension between them; all the way from the first time they met, all those muted overtones. John refuses to indulge her qualms, each one keen and conscious, to affirm her unsightly figure. He refuses commit to anything beyond touch, memory, not even words.

If only he had.

But John believes that proffering love cheapens it. Declaring love does not affirm it but renders it a cursory token. He assumes a glacial equanimity, plying her, indulging her like one does a pet that is infantilized by its tempestuous antics.

A storm brews between them in every thunderous thrust, a molten caress, and kisses which pellet. There’s no denying the warmth that surrounds her. It’s what, how he hangs over her like an impassive sky. He doesn’t ride out the storm. He waits until it clouds over and the storm spends itself. Just once, Eden wishes John would cave.

Just once.

There is laughter in the bushes, delighted and dishevelled, with gaunt eyes. It takes shape under porch lights. Tangled, haggard bodies contrastively undressed. A hush falls over them despite their sultry chatter. Nobody knows what to say. Their carnal knowledge is thought to supplant any other one. Eden knows the illusion will soon wear off. People want to commit but can’t. There is nothing there, so it’s only a matter of time before they drift apart. These comprise the hordes who muse upon how she’s mapped her life out, who never truly grow up; whose youth coexists with antiquity. Eden chases ace grades, references, and bursaries. All these people desire is life itself, to unwind and discover. On some level, she can relate. The ecstasy is there; the kind of pleasure that makes tears spring to her eyes, but there is nothing to temper this. It is something she just swallows.

Eden recalls the stars. Her gaze ascends until the world filters away. Moonlight glares back as if the entire world knows. Sadness is simpler concealed. There’s shame when it’s bared. It attenuates her feats, repurposes her resolve as damage.

Eden wishes she could just drink or drug through whatever for the hell of it. Instead, she resigns herself to the sidelines and muses after the parade of partygoers. Doesn’t look like anyone’s leaving anytime soon.

The evening wears on. Eden parks herself on the hood of a Chevy. After idling on her social media, she starts to take selfies. Only one bears some semblance of beauty: slightly angled, every edge softened by starlight as her hair picks up in the breeze. She whistles to the music that blares from inside. Recent tracks incline her to feel like less of an eyesore.

Live fast, die young; bad girls do it well…

And I’m here to remind you of the mess you made when you went away…

To all of the queens who are fighting alone: baby, you’re not dancing on your own…

When the beats hallow, time itself distends to afflict. Slow songs underscore her imperfections in the starlight, pealing the way for what misgivings fell behind, staggering after the upbeats. Doldrums reclaim her as airy convictions patter along limpid scores.

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