Jana wants to be alone, if only for a little while. Without a goodbye, she leaves her comfortable house, and with a sigh and a huff drives to the nearest hotel.
"How many nights?" the man at the desk asks.
She doesn't know. Maybe one. Maybe none. Maybe a week.
He gives her a key. It's stained yellow and smells like years of lingering smoke.
Jana walks to the elevator. The man at the desk must think she's up to no good. No one can be up to any good when they check into a hotel without suitcases. He probably thinks she's meeting someone for a fling.
A fling is the last thing on her mind.
The elevator stops on the fourth floor. The floor is quiet save for the reverberation of her steps. It sounds hollow, like the hallway hasn't been traversed in forever.
Jana stops at room 423. The number means nothing to her except escape.
The door opens with ease and slams her shut in the room.
Jana falls on the bed without removing the comforter she knows is filthy. She closes her eyes and imagines she's not in a crummy hotel room. For a moment she's back home with her family and everything's wonderful. Her eyes pop open; she doesn't want to imagine that. She wants, she needs, to be away from them right now.
The room buzzes with electricity even though nothing is turned on. She stares at the blankness of the television, at the textured walls, the cheap floral painting. This isn't why she left.
She stands, breathes a relaxed breath, and strolls to the door. The knob looks funny, like it's been mangled.
It won't turn. The door's locked.
She's trapped in a room she doesn't want to be in.
She thinks about screaming. She doesn't know where she wants to be, but it isn't here. Three times she pulls on the door, and three times it doesn't open. She kicks it twice, a pain shooting from her toes to her knees with each impact. Nothing else happens.
The door doesn't feel a thing.
Suddenly, the room is stifling. There's no air to breathe and the heat's pumping even though it's ninety degrees outside. She rushes for the phone, wanting to call home and ask for help, but her finger dials the front desk instead.
"I need help!" she says.
"Room number?" the man asks.
She can't remember.
"My door's stuck. I'm trapped. I just want out." she pants, lungs trying to grasp what little air is left.
"Be right up."
She drops the phone and waits. When the door finally opens, her whole family is standing in the doorway looking sorry. The husband smiles a supportive smile and offers a hug.
She feigns relief and closes her eyes and wishes she was somewhere else, somewhere where the knob's broken and the door won't open.