Jamie was sweating profusely. Her room at this ramshackled, old motel inn wasn’t worth much, but the least you would expect was an air-conditioning system that functioned normally. But no! That was way too civilised for this run-down inn.
Getting out of her bed, she decided to go outside and have a ciggy on the veranda. Unlocking her door, she stepped out into the cool, dark air. It was so silent here, and the parking lot facing her room was completely empty.
Lighting up her cigarette, she realised that this was her last one, she’d have to go downstairs and buy a packet from one of the cigarette dispensers she had seen earlier. Taking a long slow inhalation of nicotine-filled air, she allowed the air to enter her lungs. After what seemed like a minute, she exhaled it out. Wow! That felt so good, so much like home. Going in for the second round, she let her eyes wander around the scenery surrounding her.
Thick woods covered the outskirts of the property, full with trees, shrubs and green leaves. The sound of the rustling leaves, moving gently in coordination with the light breeze was so relaxing. It actually was much cooler here than inside that furnace like room of hers. It was a good decision on her part, coming outside to cool down!
Strangely her eyes settled on something white far ahead, in the bushes. It seemed like a statue of some sort, a little girl maybe, she could tell because it was the only thing that wasn’t swaying with the wind, in her line of sight. What an odd place to have a statue she thought. And white? It was covered with thick brown shrubs around it and that pale colour didn’t sit well! Odd! She thought, how come she hadn’t noticed it before, and it was right in front of her room?
Taking in another puff of her cigarette, she realised that her ciggy was nearly reaching its end, and it was getting chilly out here! Nodding her head, she smiled at herself thinking this to be so typical for her, never satisfied with anything….too hot, now too cold. Trying to close the front of her night coat, she decided to grab some change from her wallet on her bedside table. Deciding quickly that she would buy that pack…maybe two packs of lights, before calling it a night.
She entered into her room, rushing towards the table, grabbing her wallet and room key. Stepping outside her room, she closed the door and inserted the key into the slot, locking her oven-room, it really was too warm in there. Turning around, she looked around her, trying to figure out if she should take a left or right to get to the stairs leading downstairs to that cigarette-dispenser. Her sense of direction was horrid, so she tried to think logically, trying to orient herself, when a movement caught her eye suddenly. She looked straight ahead from where she thought she saw something move. She couldn’t miss it, it was that white statue again, only it wasn’t in the bushes, covered with shrubs. It was right at the centre of the parking lot, standing there, this little white stone girl, looking up at her.
Jamie wasn’t easily scared, but there was a strange feeling creeping up in her. Was this fear? She could swear that those eyes looked so real…even from here she could see the eye-lids close and open, like normal people did. But…this wasn’t a person, it was white stone…or wasn’t it? And how did it move? It wasn’t moving now, it just stood there, looking at her.
Still trying to figure out what was happening here, Jamie’s wallet slipped from her hands. Without even thinking, she bent down to pick it up. Straightening up, she looked back in front of her, searching for those eyes. But it was gone….nothing…no statue, the parking lot looked bare and empty. Jamie felt like she was losing it. Could she have imagined all of this?
Hesitantly she decided to get moving and buy that pack of cigarettes and get back to bed. It must have been quite late, or early in the morning, she could see the full moon shining it’s light onto the parking lot. Moving steadily on she walked to her right and after what seemed like ages, saw the top of the stairs, leading to the ground floor.
She took the curved stairs and was delighted to see the cigarette dispenser at the end of the corridor. She went ahead and dropped the coins into the slot to purchase 2 packs. She heard the machine start up and the coil started moving around her packet, to release it from its hold. Like dutiful soldiers, two packets fell from the shelf onto the bottom of the machine. Jamie, pushed open the sliding door and grabbed her packets and slipped them into the pockets of her night gown. Looking up, what she saw in front of her startled her…
A few steps ahead, stood that little girl statue in front of her. Jamie was speechless and she started trembling. So this was what fear felt like? Jamie wanted to run, so she stealthily looked to her right and started moving in the direction her eyes had already marked. But she felt herself stopping dead in her tracks, because there was another one of these statues standing there. Reacting quickly, Jamie turned and started running towards her left. From the corner of her eye, she saw that the two states were slowly moving in her direction, they seemed to be following her.
Her heart was pounding strong in her chest, she felt like her legs might just give in and crumble, because the panic was getting to her. She saw stairs up ahead, which relieved her temporarily. Running up the stairs, she reached the first level and saw that the corridor leading to her room was empty. She continued running towards her room, which was now a few feet away. Reaching for the key in her pocket, she grabbed it and shoved it into the key slot, turning it to unlock her door.
Pushing open the door, she ran in and quickly shut it, turning the key into the slot again to lock the door. Panting she felt the heat emanating from her and from the room. But she had other things to worry about because sitting on her bed were the two little white statue girls. Their skin was beginning to peel off, or was it melting? It looked like drops of molten wax, now falling onto the brown carpet of her room.
Jamie slowly turned around, reaching for the key, trying to unlock the door and escape this insane night. Tears forming in her eyes, lips quivering, her sight was getting hazy, when she heard a little voice from behind her say: “Mommie, why did you do this to us?”
Flash Fiction by ©Chriselda Barretto