505

Primarily inspired by the Arctic Monkey's "505" and "This Is Just To Say" by William Carlos Williams. Short story about two people who are each other's only limits, and their overcoming them.

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1. I'm Going Back to 505

 

The key to room 505 is still off its hook in the lobby. She’s still there, like she promised that night she got drunk. (Remember, remember, I’ll love you forever). She didn’t think she’d keep it, but. Here she is.

It’s nothing special, this place. She’s bound to it, nonetheless, by the sweatshirts in the laundry basket, the forgotten toothbrush on the sink, the ashtray on the left bedside table – or, well. The left bedside table. She’s not sure whether it’s a curse or a miracle.

She’s still wearing the pearls he gave her. She sees them in the window, clotting on her eyelashes. Sometimes she falls asleep at the sill, forehead against the glass, and the clock will blink 16:43 - not that it means anything, it broke five months ago (when he left).

Nothing works in this shithole he left her in. The bulbs are lightless, but candles smell better anyway, she thinks, dotting them across the chest of drawers. The flames are slender, nipping her fingertips, but they’re bright enough for this poky little room.

Big bed, though. Cavernous, actually. She shivers in its hollowness. Blankets never sufficed for arms, whatever the commercials say. Maybe she should dump it on the back alley for the rats and tramps to claim their piece of it, that’s all it’s really good for, but she won’t.

No, instead she’ll dial his number and draw his name in her breath on the window. His voice is a fixer, you know, like mechanics and doctors and builders. His “hello,” can mend anything.

“How are you” those wonky shelves.

“I was thinking of you” the hot tap.

“I miss you” the gash in her heart.

It isn’t all that bad a place, not always.

-

When she was younger, she used to choose the colours she saw in words and feelings. Sadness was the dull gold of liquor, a secret was the crystal glaze of a frozen lake. The shade of a cloudy, peach dawn was hope, and that morning, it shines into a dinky, dark hotel room and smiles its blessing upon her.

-

For all the raucous laughter and barbaric punches that tremor up and down the hallway, his footsteps are the loudest of them all. She throws open the door, and there he is, with his untrimmed fringe and a paper bag of breakfast in hand.

She doesn’t waste a second. His lips taste like cigarettes and autumn; she can feel the ladder of his spine, and maybe it would be better for the both of them if it weren’t like this, like satisfying a hunger when they touch, but they were never the type to know better.

They sit on the bed in a knot, eating donuts and he’ll tell her of his adventures on tour, talking slowly and forgetting the point of what he’s saying. He doesn’t look good, with his baleful black, black and blacker eyes. But that’s how he is, flitting between sleep deprivation and drugs and everything else, not knowing which is which or which was when.

She puts one of his records on, acting nonchalant and humming the tune, and she’d never admit it but here’s the truth: she admires it; his rockstar soul.

Limits were never any good for anybody.

-

They spend a week in crumpled sheets, skin slick with sweat and pupils blown, and he makes too many jokes. They only get out of bed at nightfall to prowl the streets, a joint hunt for the underground. She follows his lead, further, further. She feels weightless, like her heavy heart has been lifted (and it has, it is carried in his, and his ribcage is bursting, if only he could say it, if only he could get it out).

They get lost in a constant bass, a heartbeat, and for a moment she sees the neon lights, flashing like lightning showers, and thinks this is the shade of living. Flash, flash, flash.

(And in-between every flash, there is thunder, there is him).

She never wants it to end, but it does, it always does.

-

She knows it’s the last day, and maybe that’s why she asks him.

‘What?’ he stares, hard, and she feels like a scroll unravelling.

‘Did I really need to repeat myself?’ she quips.

He doesn’t answer, but he returns with the needle. After wiping the patch of skin on her rib, he pushes his fringe back beneath his beanie, and then leaves her a kiss on the lips to bite onto through the pain.

There’s a beat. He knows what to do, he’s just never been so – well. Scared. She looks at him plainly, no question, no doubt. She never had it in him and never will. So.

The needle burns white, but it’s not about the pain, she never considered herself much of a masochist. It’s about the oath ablaze on her skin, ablaze in his eyes. They are not each other’s better half, not by any means, but they are something quite profound for each other. It’s not love, and they know it.

She supposes it’s a shade darker than love.

And the tattoo is an almost apology, except they aren’t really sorry, not at all.

“so sweet, so cold”.

-

He’s doesn’t go back to room 505.

(But that’s okay, because it’s the start of his European tour, he has adventures to fulfil, and his sweetheart is right beside him).

(She’s never looking back).

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