I did go to the library, though I didn't have the full amount of time today (they let you use their computers for two hours, but I think I got in sixty-eight minutes), and I wrote on my new story.* I know how it ends, but not much between now and then, so it'll be fun to let the characters' deaths surprise me as it goes.
I got that writing in, then I had to go do day-to-day stuff, including running and typing this (I've found innumerable errors on my blog in the past week, and I've been taking a few minutes here and there to fix them. Okay, cards on the table, Big Anklevich has been finding innumerable errors on my blog. But the result's the same), but I'd still like to write a few more minutes, either on the earlier project, or on my "Dead & Breakfast" story.
Part of me is tempted to just write it here. Ah, what the hell.
She was young, probably mid-twenties, maybe younger, maybe older. She wasn't fat, by any means, but she had a roundness to her body, arms, big legs, around her cheeks. Pretty, in a way, but not . . .
She wasn't unattractive, really, and Natalie wondered what Mason thought of her. More than that, though, she wondered if he recognized something damaged about the girl, like she was seeing.
"Mase," she whispered, but then the girl was walking up to the desk.
Natalie normally smiled when she greeted someone, but made sure it was wide and warm with this one. "Hey there. How can I help you?"
"Need a room for the night," said the girl. She didn't smile back. She seemed awfully tired, like the occasional truck driver that stopped by the bed and breakfast, just wanting a few hours' sleep before getting on the road again and not particularly caring that this wasn't a Motel 6. "You have any?"
"We do," Natalie said, glancing surreptitiously over her shoulder to where Mason sat, his head hanging too low to be watching anything but his own eyelids. As tired as this girl looked, he probably had her beat. "Have you been here before?"
"Yeah. Years ago, we came through here once. My family, I mean." And that's all she said, though her eyes went elsewhere, and Natalie knew there was more to it.
"You have a . . . nice time then?"
"Yeah," the girl said again. "It was kinda . . ." Then she shook her head. Whatever had been about to say, she was done now. "How much?"
Natalie gave her the total, and observed the girl weigh the price then decide she didn't care what it cost. "Is it just you?" she added.
"What?" This question seemed more profound to the guest than had been intended. "Oh. Yes, just me."
"Well, then it's the standard rate rather than the family rate." And Natalie gave her a lower price, since she was traveling alone. Of course, there was no standard price versus family price, but something was going on with this young woman, and being nice to her could only help.
"Here." The girl handed over a credit card. There was a tremble in her hand as she did so. Again, Natalie glanced over to see if Mason might be watching. He wasn't.
The girl--her name was Rowan K. West, according to the VISA card--saw where she was looking and noticed her sleeping coworker. "Long day?" she asked, as though she could certainly relate.
"Car accident," Natalie said quietly, and it took all her strength not to add, "Too bad. He really wanted to be awake to meet you." But that would sound crazy, and she normally avoided saying things that made her look crazy.
"Oh," Rowan said, and kept looking, just a minute too long. The girl was drugged or really unwell or something.
"Are you okay, Rowan?" Natalie asked, and though she tried to put as much concern as she could in her voice, it sounded tinny to her, like she was just putting on an act. It embarrassed her a little.
"Just tired," she said.
Natalie ran the card--it went through--then gave it back to her. She printed out the receipt, and gave it to the girl. "Well, get some rest, then. My name is Natalie. I'll be here all night if you need anything."
"Thanks," Rowan said. She tossed one more brief glance at Mason, who was making a light snoring sound from the chair, and looked like he might topple out of it at any moment. Then she met Natalie's eyes for an even briefer glance. "What was your name?"
"Natalie. Are you . . . Can I get you anything?"
"No, thanks." She turned to go.
"Oh, wait," Natalie said, realizing she hadn't given her a key. She glanced back at the computer. She'd assigned Room 9 to her. She grabbed one of the two keys marked 9 from the case behind the desk. She gave it to Rowan, who took it with a slight palsy of her fingers.
"Thank you," said the girl. She paused again. "I really like your freckles," she said, out of the blue, then went back through the lobby, seeming more than a little lost.
Natalie hated her freckles. She often covered them with makeup, but honestly couldn't remember if she'd done so that morning. "Thanks!" she called, but the girl didn't turn back. "Nine's upstairs!" she called even louder. She pointed, but was not being observed. She realized she hadn't asked her if she had any bags (they were always supposed to volunteer to take up people's bags). The girl had had a maroon coat, and that was all.
Mason made a gasping sound next to her, and Natalie turned just in time to see him fall forward from the chair, catching himself at the last moment before his face would've hit the registration desk. "Wha?" he said.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he said groggily. "Did you call me? Say something about going upstairs?"
"You wish," Natalie said, still distracted by the new check-in.
"I guess I was dreaming," he said, and smiled. It was pretty pitiful. The start of a black eye had spread to the top of his cheek, and half of his upper lip was still doing an Angelina Jolie impression. He really ought to get some ice on that. "Did I miss anything?"
I feel really good, having written a second time. With these words and my earlier 1,617, that's a pretty good haul.
I went for a run after, and kept thinking of the scene, so when I got back, I wrote a little bit more (continuing beyond what I did in my blog). Guess that makes today my most productive day yet.
Words Today: 3,166
Words Total: 28,971
*I was reminded of an interview with Jim Gillespie, the director of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. He said that, when they did the first test screening, and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Love Hewitt are in the car together and the one girl says, "What happened to you--we used to be friends," and JLH says, "We used to be a lot of things," that there was laughter and hoots from the audience. Gillespie tried to figure out if there was something Sapphic in the line reading, or whether the audience was just filled with immature boys.
For the record, I love I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. More than anyone you know.