Working Title: Too Much, Then Not Enough

by Elise Oddity

Chapter One: The Hotel Room

It's been five years or so now since my older sister's wedding. Instead of staying at my parents' house I'd splurged on a hotel room that was really more than I could afford at the time, though it was worth it for all the comforts that seemed to come with it. The wallpaper especially was wonderful – it was a light peach colour with roses and blues swirled in, and a texture put on it that I traced with my fingers, feeling myself become less and less drunk as the night went on.

I had the curtains open, and the glow of the city was bursting through my window, no comfort to the dull ache in my head. All evening my mother had been nagging, nagging, nagging. Mostly about why Damien hadn't come with me, and each time I told her, He's busy with work. Which is the same thing we both told each other. But I don't think that's it. We ourselves had been married a year or so, and already…

I started tracing a little faster, considering the option of moving my open suitcase off the bed and going to sleep. But I couldn't bring myself to move, and instead relaxed into my position by the desk. Things started becoming real to me. I decided I'd stay another few days in the city – maybe I'd go to some cafes, meet some people. Do I know anyone besides family who lives here? Probably, but I couldn't recall who they were.

It would be just me then. Just like I was then, in my clean-smelling room, only half-dressed before the open window. It was a horrible kind of isolation that swept over me then (my fingers went faster, more vicious in their motions), the kind I thought marriage would stop me from experiencing. Was the wondrousness of it leaving me already? It was true. All inspiration, all interest had started to leave me as if I were full of holes. Looking down at myself, the only thoughts that filled my mind were about how horribly selfish and awful I was, but it didn't make anything better.

Damien didn't love me, and I didn't love him. I did at one point, I'm sure, but we expired quickly and deflated slowly into each other. In fact, I was becoming quite sure I hated him.

I tore my hand from the wall quite suddenly and started reaching for the lamp. I flicked it off, then drew the curtain over the window (didn't matter, the light still got in). In the dark, I pushed my suitcase off my bed and crawled beneath the sheets that weren't mine. I started wondering about who had been here last night. Who had taken his or her comfort in this room, same as I had? Who were they, what were they like, what was their story? They came alive in my head, just like the city pressuring in on me from outside the glass, and I wished I had my paints with me (I didn't, too bad, silly girl).

My mouth tasted like alcohol and wedding cake, and I pushed myself into the feeling of it and the soft buzz in my head. I pushed myself over the edge and into sleep, where I trusted there would be nothing – nothing I would have to keep on my mind, at least. It was too much, and then not enough. Gently, kindly, I'd slipped into a state of stagnancy that held me tighter than anything I'd ever known before.