by Hai-Mo Hu
sake in a worn mug or black coffee with a sour taste
Indigo, azure, and aegean blues fused on the horizon and tinted some hearts along the way. The smell of seaweed washed ashore and rust wrecked tourists' fantasies. Waves were singing their night lullaby outside of the motel room window. On the wooden table, a leaf-shaped bracelet with bloodstains peeked at the two people sitting across the room.
The phone rang. “You have ninety minutes,” said the front desk.
The woman was pale. “We’re not a couple, Frank. Why are we here?”
“Where else can we go for some quiet moments?” Frank said.
“Home,” the woman said.
“She just died, Sandy! We can’t just go home like nothing happened,” Frank said.
Silence fell upon them.
The bed marked its existence as a solid rock that made squeaky sounds. Some loud noises coming from the next room told Sandy this. The noises gave her burning red cheeks and stiff shoulders, and for a second the leaf-shaped bracelet slipped her mind. What was worse than the noise was a scent wafting out from the vent. It smelled like burnt plastic roses.
“God damn it,” Frank said, searching through the buttons to find the one that would turn off the smell.
“It was an accident and she attacked Mrs. Wang first,” Sandy said.
“Listen to yourself. Are you even her friend? Think about the things Mrs. Wang had done to her,” Frank said.
Sandy walked over to the bracelet. She had never seen this weaved, leaf-shaped bracelet on her friend’s wrist. She saw it for the very first time when Frank removed it from their friend while in the ambulance.
The front desk called in again. “You have fifty minutes left.”
Sandy started to cry. Tears slid down her cheeks like two water snakes.
The bright green bracelet was stained with blood.
Frank picked up the bracelet. “Let’s give her a funeral of our own. That’s why we’re here.”
Sandy knelt by the tub. Filling it up with water took time so the spider-web-cracks and tawny stains were no longer easy to ignore. She sprayed some of her liquid hand moisturizer into the air to overpower the cigarette smoke sneaking in from the drain. The hand moisturizer was an herbal flavor. Sandy liked the floral variety, but the herbal one was the only fragrance her friend could bear whenever she shopped for Sandy’s gifts. You self-centered, crazy bitch. I miss you. The warm steam gently dried her tears.
“We’re going to burn your bracelet to ashes, okay? As a symbol, you know, ‘cause we don’t have your bones. I know you’ll like the idea of a private funeral, just the three of us,” Frank said. He found a lighter from the drawer that smelled moldy. There was a lady in a bikini on the lighter. If you were here, you would call this female objectification. Frank smiled and watched the tiny flame devour the leaf-shaped bracelet.
The phone in the room rang. “Your time is up. Are you going to add one more hour?” asked the front desk.
“No, thank you. We’re leaving,” said Frank.
The ashes sank to the bottom of the tub. The water was tinted grey and it was just like the ocean. Seaside was the favorite place for Frank and Sandy’s old friend.
About the author
Hai-Mo Hu’s website: https://zoelafa0220.wixsite.com/my-site-1