The Room

Contributor: Jordan Helsley

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The sound of the unlocking door was music to their ears. As the key slid out, John swung the door into the wall. When it hit the stopper his face grimaced. He escorted a woman with straight blonde hair into the room and shut the door with care. The room was pristine, and there was a chill in the air. The air conditioner was emitting a low hum that greeted them as soon as the door opened. The shades were drawn up over the window, letting the harsh beams of sunlight litter the room. The woman had already seated herself on the far bed with her legs crossed by the time he had turned to face her.
“I love it here,” she said.
A smile formed on John’s face, but his teeth remained hidden. He began to loosen his tie as the woman pulled a notepad out of her handbag and searched for a pen. With his tie hung on the doorknob, John pulled a pen out of his shirt pocket and handed it to her. She smiled a “thank you.” The smile had fled from John’s face, but he forced one in that in moment. Before he turned away, the corners of his mouth dipped down a little too far for the woman’s liking.
“Okay, what’s wrong, John?”
John sat on the second bed with his back to her and slipped off a shoe. “I’ve just spent so much of my life in rooms just like this,” he said. He pressed his chin to his chest as he closed his eyes for a moment. He had slid off the other shoe before he opened them again.
The woman lost her smile as well as she nodded. “I understand,” she said, “but there’s no shame in that.”
“No, not shame.” John was spinning the wedding ring around his finger, still hanging his head.
“Are you trying to unscrew it or screw it on tighter?”
The woman got up to lower the blinds over the window. A shadow covered the room from head to toe.
“I don’t even know anymore,” John said as he rubbed his forehead with his hand. He pushed his hair back and turned his body to rest his head on the pillow. The ceiling was pearly white with a small crack tracing a lightning bolt away from the wall.
The woman set her notebook and pen on the bed next to John. “Take your time. I’ll be right back, then I’m not going anywhere any time soon.” She walked into the bathroom and shut the door most of the way.
John could hear the faucet running for the entirety of her absence. He put both hands over his eyes and let out a few heavy breaths as he sat up on the side of his bed, facing the other one. His throat growled as he cleared any obstruction. “Do you think I’m wasting my time here?”
The woman entered from the other room with her hair in an elaborate braid. “No, I don’t,” the woman said as she sat next to him. “I think you’re doing the right thing. Your wife will understand. Besides, it’s almost over.”
“You’re right, I guess I just need to get the story of this bullshit out before it’s too late. ”
“You’re not dead yet, John. It’s not about the disease, though. Let’s tell your story,” the woman said as he put her hand on his shoulder. “Your family deserves to hear it all.”
“There’s so much to say, where did we leave off?”
“We’re close, about two years ago.”
John told the remainder of his story to the woman as she scribbled away in her notebook. A few hours later, he uttered the final words, which included the present day. Once he finished, he pulled out a napkin cluttered with his handwriting in multiple different colors. “Next week we will cover the epilogue.”
“You got it John,” the woman said as she gave him a hug. “Meet you here next week.”
“My home away from home,” John said as he departed.
When he arrived home, John told his wife all about the memoirs he had been working on and broke the news of the terminal state of his disease. He stayed awake with her all night as she cried on his shoulder. He did not arrive at the next weekly meeting.

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Jordan Helsley began writing at age 22, when he briefly wrote freelance articles for the video game website Shortly after, he enrolling in school to refine his writing skills and obtain a writing degree.
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