harbinger (a Broken World story)
She had a dream last night. The kind of dream that makes people consider visiting a therapist. Or a team of therapists. Particularly therapists that want to publish papers.
She dreamt that she was stepping into a UFC-style cage to fight someone.
She’d never been a fan of mixed martial arts events. She always thought that the women who competed in those types of things all looked like surly maids from the Super 8. Ever since watching an event and seeing them beating the living shit out of each other she’d been a lot more respectful to the cleaning staff of whatever hotel she stayed at.
Rocky might have been in search of the “eye of the tiger”, but he’d probably have done just as well acquiring the “eye of the Super 8 maid.”
But there she was. She couldn’t recall the music she had entered the arena to, she just found herself walking into the cage and seeing it close behind her. Hearing the overly-dramatic click. Looking up and seeing her opponent standing across from her.
It was her.
She was fighting herself.
She didn’t look any more pleased to be there as she did.
The referee motioned for the two fighters to step forward and get their instructions, “let everything happen to you”, and the noise from the crowd began to swell.
“You’re a coward. I know you too well” she said to the other fighter.
“You are too” she replied.
Not much in the way of trash talking. Neither of them knew that it was good etiquette to tap gloves so they just stared at each other for a moment before returning to the verbal jousting.
“You don’t even know how to throw a punch.”
They walked back to their respective corners and then the bell rang and they both moved forward again.
“You can’t take a punch. Or even a slap.”
“You’ve never gotten up from the canvas. Not once in your life.”
“You’ve never hit anyone in your life.”
“But you’ve wanted to, god you wanted to… but didn’t. Like I said, you’re gutless.”
At this point the ref stepped forward to encourage them both to get to it. “Just keep going” he said and motioned to the disapproving audience to inspire some violence between them. The crowd was growing restless. It was obvious they wanted a show.
The two of them circled each other slowly, each circle bringing them closer together.
She felt a knot forming in her stomach. Beauty and terror.
She felt it too.
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I don’t want to be hurt.”
They were almost close enough for their noses to touch. They could feel their labored breath on each other.
“No feeling is final.”
“Don’t let yourself lose me.”
“And that’s when I woke up” she says to the visibly-uncomfortable man sitting across the desk from her.
“Interesting” he replies, “But what does that have to do with you wanting to work here?”
She laughs and continues to fill out the application. “Good question” she says almost to herself. It wasn’t like she was applying to be a maid at Super 8.
This was the Motel 6 and the correct term is housekeeper.