Kim stared at the trash can next to the bed. It was small, metal and gray. "Desert Vista Motel" was printed on the side. A used condom was stuck to the inside edge. She heard the shower turn off and a few minutes later he walked out in a cloud of steam. She listened as he walked around the room putting on his clothes. He paused for a minute before he came over to the bed. She did not bother to turn over, he was only checking himself in the mirror, as he always did.
Lying down beside her, he cuddled her close over the blanket and kissed her. He smelled like soap and expensive cologne. "I've got bad news." he said.
Kim rolled over to face him. "What is it?" she asked.
"I can't see you for a while." He caressed her hair, "The company's sending me to Detroit. They're opening a new branch there and they want me to oversee it."
"How long will that take?" Kim asked, disappointed.
"Probably a month, maybe two. It's going to be really busy for a while. I'll barely have time to call home."
Kim studied his face, he seemed sincere. "A month?" she asked.
He stood up and walked to the mirror, carefully brushing an invisible bit of lint from his shirt. "Two months," he corrected, "but it could be three, depending on how things go." Walking to the closet, he pulled out his jacket and put it on. "We'll see."
"Will you call me?"
"I'll try. But my wife is getting suspicious lately. I just know she's going to make me call her every night. Nine o'clock, on the dot. By the time I get off the phone with her, it'll be too late to call you."
Kim scowled. "When are you going to leave her?"
He walked back to the bed and kissed her deeply, Kim gasped when he broke it. "You know I want to, but I can't." He shrugged helplessly, "Don't be sad. Look, I'll call my attorney from Detroit. See how he's doing. We'll get together as soon as I get back in town. All right?" He walked to the door and opened it. "I've paid for the night so you can stay here as long as you want. Love you." He walked out, the door slowly closing behind him.
Kim looked at the door, then turned over and looked at the trash can again. The condom was still stuck to the inside. Sitting up, she picked up the remote and turned on the TV. Flipping through the channels, she saw nothing interesting and turned it off again. She tried not to think about his words. Pushing back the blanket, she got out of bed. I need a cigarette, she thought looking around the room. Her purse was in the corner, half buried under her blouse and bag. Crossing the room, she picked it up and stuck her hand inside, quickly locating her lighter and a crumpled pack of cigarettes. She pulled one out and lit it, sitting down on the bed again and taking a deep drag. She paused, letting the nicotine do its magic, before blowing the smoke out in a long stream. After a few minutes she stood up, scratched her head and walked into the bathroom. Sitting down on the toilet, she smoked and listened to the fan hum noisily overhead. With a last drag, she stood up, dropped the butt into the bowl, and flushed.
Washing her hands, she looked at herself in the mirror. Turning the faucet off, she pulled a red curl straight and glared at it. I look like a poodle, she thought. Never should have tried a home perm. He never said anything about it, anyway. Sighing again, heavily, she leaned forward and tried to smooth the lines around her mouth with a finger, then pulled at the soft skin under her green eyes, held out one arm and watched the skin wobble underneath.
"God." she muttered to herself in disgust. "35 years old and I look like I'm pushing sixty."
Flicking the light off, she walked back out in the room and dressed slowly. She looked at the phone on the nightstand. He said he'd paid for it all, right? I wonder if Carla's in. She picked up the phone and dialed, it rang three times before an answering machine started. She hung up before the message finished. Can't expect friends to just sit around waiting for me, she chided herself. Picking up her purse and bag, she walked out the door.