She’d consulted the psychic. She’d prettied herself up. She’d cleaned and pressed her nicest outfit. She knew living in the roadside motel sent an unintended and negative message to her guest about her life. And still she waited.
He’d be arriving soon.
She hoped his car would be as nice as the spelling in his chat posts. She dreamed of a world where his real face was the same as the face in the photo. Her heart ached a little and her soul felt a bit of gloom knowing her hopes and dreams might be dashed … again.
Standing in that neighborhood, among those people, with her history didn’t make any sense. Her house was for vagrants, for drug addicts, for the deranged and broken. She stood on the corner waiting for him to arrive hoping he might not notice the laundry facilities in the main office. The rusted signs. The collection of cardboard directions in the windows delineating a litany of prohibited acts. She hoped he wouldn’t notice, but even by driving into this area, he would know he’d made a mistake.
He’d think she couldn’t be the naive girl who blindly followed love into a series of remarkable events leaving her penniless, homeless, and alone. She couldn’t be the optimist with all her teeth. She would never turn out to be the funny, witty, and caring girl on the other side of that chat board. When she gave him directions to her apartment, he would have known people of her sort, people he wanted her to be, those people did not live here.
Yet she hoped he would still drive on to their rendezvous as he’d promised. He probably hoped the story of her scurrilous ex-boyfriend wasn’t literary hyperbole.
As the sun yawned after a tired day and belched forth a thousand hues of sky, and as the neon lamps inside the motel sign groaned to life and lit the vacancy sign again, and as the advertisements for a AAA discount, cabins, and Zenith televisions featuring chromacolor all began to lure the day walkers into her home and bring her new neighbors for a night, as the world began to doze, or spring to life in the hope of a midnight excursion for the nocturnal, as all the world rustled and changed, she stood motionless and frozen waiting for a dream to come true.
How had it come to this?
She’d grown up like anyone. She’d never stood out in school, but she did okay. She’d had her group of friends. She’d met a man with whom she thought she’d share her life. But he hadn’t turned out to be what she believed. He chased away her friends. Alienated her family. Broke her spirit. Her mind. Her pocketbook. Now she had free wireless in a coffee shop, a computer she’d purchased in a pawn shop, a few nice dresses from her old life, and a job she pretended was somebody else’s job. It didn’t pay for a future. It paid for food, public transportation, and the four walls surrounding her smelly carpet and stained bed. The toilet worked, she had a warm shower if she bathed at night, and the electricity allowed her to read the romance novels she bought and returned from the paperback exchange.
She avoided her neighbors hoping to stay clear of the addictions ravaging their souls, and they avoided her assuming something so clean and pretty could not bring them anything but grief. She tried to build a life inside her head that looked nothing like the life around her.
The hours upon hours chatting on the computer taught her how to search for a better job without finding one, how to search for a mate while finding an endless parade of sad little men with mean libidos. How to laugh and cry at puppy videos, solo singers crooning away in thousands of poorly conceived laptop movie, at forum postings by angry, funny, and sometimes insightful writers who would forever remain anonymous as the churning wheels of time, archived posting, and deleted data created friends in Australia, in Great Britain, and all across America for a moment before they logged out never to return.
Who would it be tonight.
If their whispers weren’t the usual pack of lies, he’d be tall. He’d be single. He’d be a little shy, but funny. He said he wasn’t fat, or toothless, or bald, but she would have been fine with any of those as long as he had the charisma in real life that his fingers possessed when dancing over his keyboard somewhere out there in her city.
Why couldn’t that “out there” be “right here” in her part of town?
She didn’t know much about this town, his town, because she’d landed stranded here before the legendary exploits of her ex finally vaporized into bad memories. She pretended to believe the rows of houses stretching incessantly into the trees represented peace, and happiness, and stability. She wanted to thrive in his environment of tranquility. She pretended the loneliness she endured these days would serve as training for the peacefulness of a life lived in his suburbia. She pretended and she waited.