Room Available

This is an exercise where I take the first line or two of a book and start writing. The goal is to write a complete story or scene. Another rule is that I haven’t read the book, so I have no idea where the beginning of the book is going.

He’d stopped trying to bring her back. She only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down deja vu. **2007 red Mustang

That’s what she called her car, ‘Deja vu’ because she said it was pretty much like the 2006 red mustangclunker it replaced. Only it wasn’t a clunker. It was the same model, same color, same interior. The only real difference was that it was four years younger, as if a seven year old car could be considered young. She said the salesman told her she was getting a bargain because, “A new car loses at least 25% of its value the minute it rolls off the lot and after a month, it’s not a new car anymore. It’s a trade-in.” That’s why she always bought used cars.

Don’t know what it was about that particular model. Maybe she liked it because it was reliable, at least in the sense that some models like the Edsel were gone almost before you knew they were around, but a Mustang, every year there might be a new Mustang.

Now that he thought about it that particular model suited her perfectly. She wanted to go where she wanted, when she wanted and neither have to stay nor feel guilty if she left. She wanted to always be able to feel the breeze in her hair.

It started innocently enough; they met at a party, chatted, saw each other at another party, and chatted again. Her name was Kristie, a model who traveled the world. He found some of her pictures in some of the magazines she mentioned. It was nice knowing her, but he felt like he was out of her league and figured the chatting was about as far as it was going to go. Then as he was leaving a party things changed. He noticed her about half way down the stairs and was surprised when she reached the landing and turned to talk to him. “You know, I’ve got no place to stay tonight. Okay if I crash at your place?”

She stayed two days, and then was gone. No good-bye, no note. Six weeks later his phone rang.

“Hey Bill, I’m in Chicago, three, maybe five days. You’ve got room, don’t you?”

Of course he had room. He had one queen size bed, there was always room.

Every month or two she rolled into town, called, and parked her red Mustang out on the street. She would stay those 3 -5 days. He would be ecstatic, almost delirious, but trying to hide his feelings. This was a friendship and if there was any chance it would progress beyond that it had to remain a friendship until it simply became more than a friendship. He thought that might happen when she stayed longer, but after her three or four or five days, she always left.

At least after her third stay she began telling him when she was leaving and giving him a subtle kiss goodbye. He always wanted to ask where she was going, what she was going to be doing. He never asked any of those questions, though. He was pretty sure she wouldn’t answer anyway.

Then there was the last time, almost a year ago, when she left he felt like she wouldn’t be back. He didn’t think much of it at the time, because that’s the way he always felt when she gave him that, ‘Seeya soon, maybe’ kiss goodbye. The kind of kiss that lingered long after the lips that gave the kiss was gone.

When three months had passed and she hadn’t called. He began second guessing himself. Had he been too obvious? Of course he was in love with her. He reserved his entire life for the few days she would be there. Even though he tried his best to maintain just a friendship, he was sure she knew, sure she sensed, sure she had been in town and found another less dangerous to her lifestyle place to stay.

After six months he began purging his thoughts and memories of her. He felt like he had been like a used car for her. Time to trade it in when it lost some of its luster. Eventually, he hardly ever thought of her, even when reading stories about fashion models, or seeing some of the products she helped advertise.

Then the phone rang, “Hello, Kristie gave me your number. We work together. She said if I need a place to stay, you’d probably have room.”

# # #

** first lines of ‘Eleanor and Park’ by Rainbow Rowell


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