The moment Amanda walked into the hotel room and dropped her bags, she fell headfirst onto the bed that was closest to the door.
“Get up,” Jess urged her friend, but Amanda only grunted in reply.
“You can’t do that,” Jess scoffed as she walked through the spacious room, checking all the drawers and admiring the art on the walls.
“First, you refused to get waxed,” she pointed out as if listing off criminal offenses.
“But I didn’t push. In the state you are in, no one would even want to see that beaver, anyway,” she said in a quieter but a more high-pitched voice, in between her oohing and aahing.
“Then, you weren’t in the mood to pack, so I had to do it for you,” Jess added with returned strength in her voice.
“People at the airport thought I was trying to kidnap you or that you were mentally and/or physically challenged because I had to literally drag you all throughout the airport,” she added and sighed.
“We’re here like you wanted. Now, leave me alone. I’m sure you can manage taking a couple of selfies without me,” Amanda grumbled as she climbed underneath the covers.
“Amanda, we’re in paradise. Look at this!” Jess opened the bedroom doors leading onto a patio, beyond which stood a colorful garden. “Look how beautiful!” Jess called out to her friend and then made her way towards the end of the tiled patio.
Even though Amanda did peer from underneath the blanket, she was not tempted to leave the cozy bed at all. The pillows made her feel safe. When she was curled up in bed, no one was judging her. No one was telling her to get over someone with whom she spent so many wonderful years. “Years full of lies,” the voice from the back of her head whispered, and Amanda shut her eyes tighter.
Jess spent a few minutes looking out at the exotic plants, wondering what animals lived between those leaves. As she took in a deep breath, a wider smile crept onto her face. It might have been difficult to deal with Amanda back at home, but in the Bahamas, the weather was gorgeous, so were the surroundings, and, most important of all, Jess was on her way to stardom. She could put up with her best friend going through a heartache.
“Once I am famous, rich, and powerful, I will grind him into dust!” she thought to herself about Amanda’s ex. “No one messes with my girl,” she whispered to the garden and headed back into the room.
No matter how hard Jess tried, Amanda would not agree to go with her to the intro meeting during which Jess was supposed to find out the details of her vacation-for-selfies arrangement.
“You’re the worst friend ever!” Jessica exclaimed as she slammed the door, exiting the room.
Even though Amanda felt a tiny bit guilty for not being there for her friend at the start of what was surely going to be her bright career, she could not help but feel the way she did. All she wanted was to be alone. Jess was the only person she was able to stand, and that was already pushing her limits.
“Time heals,” people say, which meant that Amanda just needed time to get over the breakup. But that, to Amanda, sounded like an awfully long suffering. If she could just hibernate like a bear and sleep the pain away…
After a short nap, Amanda woke up somehow refreshed and slightly curious about her surroundings. The air in the room was getting stuffy, so she made her way towards that patio, which Jess gushed over when they first arrived. Having opened the door, Amanda felt a gentle breeze on her face. She took a deep breath in, held it for a moment, and then let it out.
“Maybe this isn’t going to be half as bad,” Amanda mused, walking out onto the patio.
The tiles were pleasantly warm but not scalding hot. The garden in front of her eyes was truly beautiful. It was so peaceful that Amanda visualized herself curled up on the rocking chair, which sat in the corner, looking into the gamma of rich colors in front of her for hours. She thought it might be something similar to meditating. Although, she was not 100% sure since meditating was not something she had ever done. Before, she never had any time to waste. Now, time was the only thing she had.
The sun began to set.
Jess, with her face covered in blood, rushed into the room as quickly as she could, dragging one of her legs behind her.
Slamming the door shut behind her, she tried to yell out for Amanda, but only a whisper escaped her throat. Apparently, strangulation was not good for the vocal cords. Her eyes darted from one side of the room to the other.
The blanket on Amanda’s bed was tossed aside. Frantic, Jessica checked the bathroom. Nothing. There was no sign of her bestie anywhere.
“God damn it!” she cried out and winced. It was even painful for her to swallow, let alone scream. “You were supposed to stay in bed until I got back. Where the fuck did you go?” Jess wondered, now knowing better than to try and ask it out loud. Frazzled, she was unsure of what to do next. Does she wait for her friend to come back, or does she leave her behind?
As if on cue, a snow globe that adorned Amanda’s nightstand fell to the floor and shattered into a million pieces. Tiny snowflakes spilled across the floor.
Jess jumped at the sound and fumbled to the floor as she tripped over her own legs. Only then did she notice the strong wind blowing through the bedroom. The doors to the patio were wide open. Relieved that there was nothing maleficent going on, she sighed, hoping that they would not have to pay for the smashed trinket.
“Who would even want to see snow here?” she scoffed under her breath and slowly moved towards the patio to close the doors.
Whoever chased her – whatever chased her – turned around before getting anywhere close to the hotel. It was as if there was an electric fence surrounding the hotel that no one but humans could get past. She was not sure how, but she could feel… She knew that she was safe as long as she stayed inside.
As she reached the patio doors, she heard a scream.
“Amanda?” she yelled out despite her injured throat. It was no more than a hoarse whisper.
Before she could try calling out again, her eyes closed instinctively, and she held her breath. It was as if an invisible bucket of water was thrown right in her face. After a moment, having cleared her eyes, Jess looked down at her hands. Her torso. Her legs. She was drenched in blood from head to toe.
Shaking like a leaf, Jess looked towards the far right corner of the patio. She inched her way closer, hoping that what she thought she was seeing was not what it really was. But, the closer she got, the more certain she was that it was Amanda’s left arm. Silver rings adorned every finger of the hand. Very slowly, Jess bent over, next to the detached limb, and moved the Pandora charm bracelet aside, revealing a tattoo of a cat’s face that Amanda got when she moved out of her family home and left her Cuddles behind.
Reality broke through the initial shock, and Jess jumped back, falling to the floor. Like a crab, she made her way back to the room without taking her eyes off of Amanda. Or whatever was left of her.
With her feet, Jess slammed the patio doors shut.
“Think!” she scolded herself before falling limply onto the floor.
“Write a story inspired by the word ‘exotic.'”
– prompt used for this CW piece.
P.S. As always, you are more than welcome to use this prompt to inspire your post. If you decide to write something, be sure to pingback to this post so that I can get an alert and check out your piece. (A post on how to do pingbacks can be found here.) If pingbacks are not your thing, feel free to simply leave a link to your piece in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!
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