Up and Over. This surprises me. Most of the time, he dismisses these eerie feelings of mine, saying I m just

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1 Up and Over I don t like this place. It feels off, I know, I don t like it either. This surprises me. Most of the time, he dismisses these eerie feelings of mine, saying I m just being sensitive. Never has he agreed with me, and him doing so now is a bad sign. Not that I will say as much--no use pressing my luck. A small vein of annoyance runs through me when I think of all the times he s belittled me after I ve voiced feelings of unease. Maybe we should try somewhere else? I shake my head, thinking of all the NO VACANCY signs we d passed on our way to the motel. I don t think we can find a room on such short notice. And definitely not as cheap as this one was. He pulls into a spot near the door. We both get out, knowing without saying anything that neither one of us feels safe being alone here. A small sign on the front door directs us around the corner to the after midnight window. We find ourselves in a compact room overflowing with intense whirring from two ancient vending machines. There is a smudged plexiglass window separating us from the area behind the counter with one small opening at the very bottom, just large enough for payment and room keys to be exchanged. As soon as the door swings shut behind us a wave of claustrophobia rises up in me, so strong I have to force myself not to run out the door and demand that Josh drive us far away. Part of me just wants to grab the keys and leave without him. Yes, I think, suddenly unfathomably angry at Josh, he is the problem. I am certain now that if Josh weren t here I wouldn t be nearly as scared. I would be able to breathe and this room wouldn t feel nearly as small without him taking up so much space. I wrap my arms around myself and glare at my feet so I don t have to look at him. page 1 of 5

2 Clearly annoyed the check-in desk is still vacant, he starts clearing his throat and coughing, The noise is immediately swallowed up by whir of the vending machines, yet it grates on my nerves to the point I want to smack him to make him stop. Right as I am opening my mouth to yell at him to shut up, the night manager walks out of the back room and towards our little window. How can I help you? he asks. Well, I assume that s what he said. Because the only hole in the window is at the bottom, most of the sound from his words hits the plexiglass and bounces right back. The little bit that does make its way through the bottom is almost impossible to hear over the noise in our little room. We have a reservation for tonight. Last name Sage. Like the manager, Josh s words bounce right off the window back at us. They become their own almost physical presence in the room, and I grit my teeth over the increased panic that wells up in me as I feel the room getting even smaller. Here s the credit card we made the reser-- I m going outside, I m so desperate to leave I practically shout at him. His face tells me the words came out with as much anger and fear as I m feeling. Forcing my voice to a more calm, sane tone I continue, I m going to condense our overnight bags so we don t have to carry a bunch of stuff in. Okay, he says, still a little shocked at my outburst. The night manager shows no sign that he even heard me. It should be unlocked. I shove open the door, the cool air immediately tempering my emotions. Still, I feel more than a little annoyance that he didn t trust me enough to give me the keys. What am I going to do, leave him here? I think, ignoring the fact that moments ago I had been overwhelmed with a desire to do just that. In the open air, I now feel ridiculous for being so angry at Josh for doing nothing more than existing. I open the car door and start transferring clothing from the large suitcase into our two, smaller backpacks. Just as I m finishing up, Josh comes outside and hands me the room keys. Wow I can t believe page 2 of 5

3 he d trust me with this kind of responsibility, I think venomously. I m surprised he s not worried I ll lose the key. We re in room 308, he says, standing close enough to me I feel trapped again. Ok cool. Thanks. I ll take a load of stuff up while you re parking. I sling my backpack onto my shoulder and start to walk away, but he stops me. Hey, are you okay? his eyes are full of concern and hurt, which only makes me more angry, so I look away. You ve been acting weird since we got here. Yeah, I say, forcing a smile. Just a long day of traveling. And this place just creeps me out. It is pretty spooky, he says. His agreement only serves to make me angrier and I walk away without saying anything else for fear I might start screaming at him. The motel is laid out so that the doors to each room are outside and three walkways line the building, one for each floor. I start up the steps, further unnerved by the bright salmon color of the walls, that I assume is supposed to look cheery but instead gives off the feeling it s hiding a much darker color. I arrive at our room and open the door, throwing my bag on the bed and digging through it for my pajamas. In the middle of unzipping the bag, I pause. The room looks like any other hotel room. The carpet is rough and stained and the bed is covered in a terrible, floral print. A small table is accompanied by one faded chair and a TV sits on a scratched up dresser. On the far side of the room, is the sink with a door to the toilet and shower. I can hear the sounds of the toilet running and jump when the sound intensifies. Once I realize that it is just refilling the tank to replace the leaking water, I relax, feeling ridiculous. Nothing looks abnormal, but I get the strange feeling that the room is hiding something. I want to rip the covers back and overturn the mattress or storm into the bathroom and rip open the shower curtain or empty every drawer in the bedside table and dresser until I find what it is the room is hiding. page 3 of 5

4 Instead I make my way over to the mirror, calm and controlled. I know without even thinking about it that the room doesn t want its secret revealed. I can relate to this sentiment and decide to respect that. Once I reach the mirror I can feel a pull that make me want to lean in. I stare into my own eyes, entranced. In the back of my mind I notice that the wall on my right sounds like it s breathing. A steady inhale, and exhale of pressure. Probably a water heater, I think. I time my own breathing to it. Focusing on the mirror, I can feel my tension and anger fade away. My earlier apprehension towards the motel now seems silly. There s nothing off about it, it s just like any other Super 8 I ve stayed at before, I just got here at a scarier time of day. I feel bad for blaming my mood on the building, when the blame clearly belongs with Josh. After three days in the car my patience was wearing thin anyways. His loud breathing, his eating noises, his dismissal of my feelings unless they matched his own, the way he wouldn t trust me to drive the car even when I could tell he was tired, or how he rolled his eyes at any song I chose to play. I d written them off as annoying quirks, but in reality the anger was building. Something about being here tonight made it all rise up in me. So what if the motel caused me to realize it? I m glad. I m grateful to this place for making me see that I can t put up with him anymore. I stand there, staring at myself and breathing with the building, making peace with this motel and thanking it for the clarity. A loud bang jerks me out of my reverie as Josh opens the door and it hits the wall. Instantly as irate as I was before, I refuse to turn around and look at him directly. I notice what he s holding in the mirror and bristle with anger. You didn t have to bring in the suitcase. I put everything you d need in your backpack. Yeah, but I didn t really want to leave it in the car. Or maybe you just thought I couldn t handle packing a simple overnight bag. I snap. page 4 of 5

5 What? his face shows surprise. I don t think he expected me to puzzle that out for myself. No, I just didn t want to chance anything. Are you okay? The addition of him and the suitcase makes the room feel as small as the one downstairs, and suddenly my headache is unbearable. I know I need to get out of the room, so I grab the ice bucket and walk towards the door, throwing it open. I m fine. I m going to find the ice machine, I say, letting the door slam behind me before he can respond. I walk to the corner of the building and look out over Twin Falls. The motel is surprisingly far from the freeway, so all I can see are the quaint little houses small towns are always full of. I still can t breath and the headache has not subsided, the knowledge that Josh is still only a few yards away fuels my anger at him. I wish I could just fly away from him and this motel. Up and over, then soar anyplace I want. No, I think. Just away from him. The motel is fine, it s Josh that s making me feel this way. Hey, are you sure you re okay? Josh comes up behind me, shocking me out of my happy daze. The headache--which had started to fade the longer I stood looking at the town--suddenly explodes. Gripping the sides of my head, one coherent thought forms. This is his fault. I look at him and see a face full of concern as he asks questions I can no longer hear. I m pretty sure I see his lips form the words what can I do? Go away, I think, sure that that will solve my problem. I just need him gone. In that moment I realize the simple solution to the entire situation. A smile slowly forms as I grab onto his jacket. He reaches for my hands, thinking I m asking him to comfort me. Up and over, I think. page 5 of 5

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