Jared slammed the door as he left the room and Jennifer let her head hang forward. This was not turning out the way she had planned. All her girlfriends were talking about the exotic vacations their husbands were taking them on. Beaches and ancient cities, or exotic locales with names they couldn’t even pronounce. And while on these trips, they found new light and fire in their relationships. They came home happy and glowing with sun and renewed passions. Two were even pregnant now.
That was what Jennifer wanted. What they all had. Husband, children, a large house, and amazing vacations. All she had was Jared, and a little apartment in a big complex where all the buildings looked the same and all your neighbors did too. One time, last year, after a night out drinking with friends, she had tried to open the door to the wrong apartment. In her drunken state she had gotten confused as to which building was which, and had not realized her mistake until after the third try of failing to get her key in the lock the man had come out threatening to call the cops.
It had been really embarrassing, but it had been even worse when Jared had yelled at her for being stupid. He always yelled at her for being stupid. He yelled about a lot of things.
The room she was in was nice, but slightly worn. The doors to the other rooms on this floor had been nicer. More polished, nicer trim. She imagined that the rooms on either side of her were nicer. She wondered if they had newer carpets, or maybe a painting above the bed that was brighter than the faded water color rose she was staring at.
Sulking, she pulled a magazine out of her bag and sat by the window. She idly flipped the pages, wishing she could be more like the women on the glossy pages. Thinner. Prettier. More glamorous. Then Jared would love her more.
Jennifer heard a couple out in the hall. They sounded happy. She wanted to be happy like that. She sat there, staring out the window imagining what the couple in the hall’s life must be like. She bet they drove one of the fancy cars she had seen down in the parking lot. Long and sleek town cars with tinted windows and individual temperature control and heated leather seats.
She wondered if they had a big house and if he worked in the city while she spent her days shopping in the best stores and eating in the best restaurants with her beautiful friends. She wanted to be that woman so badly is hurt.
While she stared out the window dreaming of all the things she did not have, night had fallen. Or maybe a storm was moving in. The warm afternoon sun had vanished behind grey clouds.
Jared had not returned from the dining room yet. Surely he should be back by now. Jared ate like someone was going to steal his food if he didn’t get it in his mouth fast enough, it was not like him to linger over a meal. Concerned, she grabbed her favorite green shawl from the back of the chair and headed out of her room.
The hallway was not lit and she stumbled her way to the stairs. They were on the third floor, so she hoped the lower floors were better lit. Had the power gone out?
She did not meet a single other person on the stairs down, but she could hear them still talking and laughing in their rooms. No one else seemed to be worried. About the storm coming. Maybe she was being silly, maybe everything was just fine and Jared had just lost track of time. Je would be mad at her for worrying and getting upset. She almost turned around to go back to her room, but a sudden whiff of something foul stopped her in her tracks. She was almost to the lobby, but everything was far from right. Instead of smelling the food from teh dinning room she smelled rotten meat and moldering wall paper. Then she heard them. Dogs barking.
There were dogs in the hotel. Two large black dogs, with eyes like coals were there at the bottom of the stairs waiting for her. They barked once.